Stock photo of a Zipcar. Photo from Zipcar.

It’s been a long time coming but, because of a significant increase in usage and related cost, I learned today we are about to make a change to our Zipcar Alternate Commute Program.

The program currently offers 8-hours of free Zipcar usage each month to members of our Zipcar Alternate Commute Program (ACP), who are UCLA staff and faculty without an individual drive-alone parking permit and who are employed more than 40% time. UCLA staff and faculty who regularly commute here without a car–by public transit, vanpool, carpool, bike or walking–can still do so even on days they must get to off-campus personal appointments or errands. All it takes is reserving and using one of several Zipcars parked on and just off campus.

Beginning December 1, 2010, the amount of free Zipcar usage will be reduced to 4-hours per month, per member. If you’re a program member who wants or needs to drive a Zipcar more than 4-hours a month, you’ll have to apply for and make a reservation through your own personal Zipcar account.

I’ve learned that even at 4-hours of free usage a month, UCLA compares favorably with other universities with similar program, like Stanford and UC San Diego, who both give their employees who commute by any mode other than driving solo, under two hours of Zipcar usage per month.

Some history: When car-sharing first came to campus several years back via then-Flexcar, UCLA Transportation began subsidizing up to eight hours of usage (or the equivalent of a full day) per person, per month. At first, this was financially viable–and generous to both our car-share customers and to Flexcar—providing them with a kind of de facto financial guarantee which, in turn, enabled them to build up their presence in the UCLA/Westwood area and help solidify their financial footing. Eventually, Zipcar bought out Flexcar.

The adjustment in the amount of Zipcar hours that our department pays for will allow us to sustain this popular support service for our current Alternate Commute Program participants as a whole, and enable future participants to zip along, as well.

For more information, click on http://www.zipcar.com/ucla/.