Zipcar, the on demand car company with vehicles parked adjacent to Metro stops and throughout the Washington D.C. area, has recently completed initial testing for a new technology that successfully integrates metro's SmarTrip card technology with Zipcar's.
Zipcar, upon approval from WMATA, expects to expand the test in the coming weeks using volunteers who carry both SmarTrip and Zip Cards, the proximity card used by Zipcar members to unlock their vehicles.
The proprietary technology is a first in the District for self serve car companies, and it is expected to be widely used by Zipcar's 2,000 active members in the Washington area.
"We're piloting this new technology to further integrate our self serve car concept with existing public transportation," explained Zipcar CEO Scott Griffith. "We know that most of our members rely heavily on the Metro for their transportation needs, and this innovative system will allow commuters to use their SmarTrip cards for both Zipcars and public transit. Those city dwellers or workers who only need a car or a second car once in a while don't have to go through the hassles and expense of owning one. Zipcar and Metro provide an alternative."
Zipcar now has more than 25 locations near stations along the Metro lines and another 40 locations throughout the D.C. metro area to service its approximately 2,000 active members. Its cars range from fun to practical including new Volkswagen Beetle convertibles, Honda Elements, Mini Coopers, Ford Focus wagons and the Toyota Prius gas/electric hybrids to name a few.
Furthermore, all Zipcar members can reserve any car in the network at any time, not only in the District area but throughout the New York City, New Jersey and Boston metropolitan areas as well as in Princeton and Hoboken, N.J.
Unlike other self serve car companies, Zipcar's unique web-based reservation system provides secure, keyless entry to all of its cars, and its on-board computer system tracks all billing and usage information so there is no paper work or logs to fill out. Zipcars can be used for as little as an hour or for several days at a time. Members pay a low hourly and mileage rate while Zipcar covers insurance, maintenance, reserved parking and even gas.
Last month, Zipcar developed a partnership with George Washington University, the largest private employer in the District, where students and staff are provided special Zipcar memberships. This agreement was designed to encourage members of the University community to use Zipcars rather than privately owned automobiles to help ease traffic volume and parking on and around campus.
The company also has a partnership with Archstone-Smith Real Estate where the developer offers Zipcars as tenant amenities.
Founded in Cambridge, Mass. three years ago, Zipcar currently has more than 10,000 members and maintains more than 200 locations.