If a borough resident’s car is in the shop, or she doesn’t have a car and needs to run errands for a couple of hours, the car-sharing service Zipcar now will offer five vehicles for short-term use.
A Ford Focus, Ford Escape, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Prius and Honda Civic will be parked downtown in the Beaver Avenue parking garage, the Beaver Avenue parking lot and the McAllister parking deck.
Residents can join the service for $60 this year, with vehicle rates starting at $7.50 per hour and $69 per day. Students older than 18 can join for a discounted rate this year of $25. Gas, insurance, a reserved parking spot and up to 180 miles of driving per day are included.
Zipcar will launch the program from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday in the Beaver lot. The first 200 people to stop by after 11:30 a.m. will get free a lunch from the El Gringo food truck.
Company representatives also will be available Friday at South Allen Street and College Avenue.
Parking Manager Charles DeBow said he contacted Zipcar about three years ago to see if the company was interested in coming to the borough. At that time, Zipcar could only rent to students younger than 21 if the university was involved.
“I worked with Zipcar when I worked with a private parking company,” DeBow said. “I just thought that State College would be a great spot for them.”
Six months ago, the company contacted DeBow and said the rules had changed. Now, students older than 18 and other residents older than 21 can sign up to use the cars.
“From time to time we’ve been asked about car sharing,” DeBow said, though it primarily has been from parents of students. “We have a good size of the population that could walk to these cars.”
After the program launch on Thursday, the borough won’t be involved in its operation. Zipcar, essentially, is a borough customer by renting the five vehicle parking spaces.
The borough will receive about $6,600 a year in revenue from those five spaces.
Those interested can join Zipcar at www.zipcar.com/statecollege. Users also can download the Zipcar mobile application on iPhone and Android phones to make reservations, lock and unlock vehicles, and honk the horn to help locate the vehicles.