Robert Morris adds zip to transportation

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The safety and serenity of the suburban Robert Morris University campus is prized by students, as well as their parents. But now officials at the school are making it easier for students, staff and faculty to make brief forays out of Moon.

A new partnership with Zipcar Inc. began last Thursday with a “meet and greet” at the Nicholson Center Food Court. The company that bills itself as the world’s leading car-sharing network will offer cars for rent for as little as one hour or as long as one day.

“It’s a response to more students living on campus and more students arriving without their own cars,” Robert Morris spokesman Jonathan Potts said.

With getaways in mind, on Jan. 31 the university started weekend shuttles to Walmart in North Fayette and the Mall at Robinson and IKEA in Robinson. The IKEA stop was picked because a Port Authority transit stop there can whisk riders to Pittsburgh, the airport and other destinations. In the start-up phase, the shuttle will run every other weekend, including this weekend.

After the customer pays $25 for an annual Zipcar membership, cars rentals start as low as $7.50 per hour and $69 per day. Cars are available 24/7 for students, faculty and staff 18 and older. Members of the local community also can rent cars, but must be at least 21.

The university initially will have two cars. They are called “Nelson” and “Alfred,” names of horses ridden by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The cars will be kept in a campus lot near Gazebo Parking and are available on demand or can be reserved in advance.

Gas, insurance, a reserved parking spot and up to 180 miles of driving per day are included in Zipcar rates.

“As RMU’s enrollment and residential population has grown substantially over these past few years, providing affordable and easy access to transportation is important,” said John Michaleno, vice president, student life, and dean of students. “Adding Zipcars to our menu of transportation services provides yet another amenity to support our student needs.”

“Zipcar will give students the opportunity to go out and enjoy a fun night in the city, provide a way to travel to the interview you’ve been preparing for, and even give students a way to run to the store to grab some groceries,” student David Wright said.

Zipcar members with smartphones can download the Zipcar mobile application to make reservations, lock and unlock the vehicles and honk the horn to help locate the vehicle. Reservations can also be made by phone or at the website.

More than $300,000 in grants will be awarded to student organizations at Zipcar schools through the Students With Drive program sponsored by Zipcar and Ford Motor Co. The program runs through April.

One student organization will win a grand prize of $5,000 in Zipcar driving credit, $10,000 in cash for the organization to put toward its cause and $10,000 in cash to be awarded to the organization’s school.

Zipcar has relationships with more than 300 universities and colleges in North America.

Linda Wilson Fuoco: or 412-722-0087.

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