Zip it

Sacramentans without cars now have a more affordable rental option

Zipcar’s Dan Grossman poses in front of one of the car-sharing company’s vehicles, a Honda Insight hybrid last week at Cesar Chavez Plaza.

Zipcar’s Dan Grossman poses in front of one of the car-sharing company’s vehicles, a Honda Insight hybrid last week at Cesar Chavez Plaza.


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Sean Walker lives and works downtown. He owns a car, and even a motorcycle, but walks most places he needs to go. He’s been considering selling his car for a while, however—and with the city of Sacramento’s new car-sharing program, which launched last week, he says going without a vehicle is now a realistic option.

To decrease roadway congestion, air pollution and spending on city vehicles, city of Sacramento officials requested proposals for a car-sharing program last year. And Zipcar, the world’s largest car-share service, presented the most attractive bid, according to Azadeh Doherty, project manager and principle planner at the city’s Department of Transportation.

Sacramento will save around $35,000 by eliminating some cars from its fleet and replacing them with access to Zipcars.

“Zipsters”—as the company affectionately refers to members—can reserve vehicles for one to 10 hours, or for full days. The hourly rate in Sacramento is starts at $8.75 (it’s higher on weekends), and full days start at $63. Hourly or daily rates include gas and insurance.

There are more than half a million Zipsters worldwide. AAA estimates the privilege of owning a car costs consumers $9,641 on average.

Dan Grossman, a Sacramento State alum and Zipcar’s regional vice president, says a lot of different people will use the vehicles: state or city workers who commute in on public transit but need to run errands on a lunch break, couples with only one car, downtown/Midtown residents who want to go carless.

“For eight bucks you can use my car, my gas,” Grossman said. “It’s a no-brainer.”

Doherty said she’s looking forward to using Zipcars herself, not just in Sacramento but also when she travels. She noted that it’s much cheaper than renting a car and paying to park it in a hotel garage.

“We have the lowest rates [compared to] any other city,” Doherty added, noting that Sacramento’s prices are locked in for an entire year.

Even Councilman Steve Cohn is hopping on the Zipcar bandwagon. “In my case, I can ride my bike more and not worry about going out of the district for meetings,” Cohn explained. “[Zipcar] may be the difference between buying a car or not for some people.”

Cohn also added that Zipcar disproves the cultural assumption that one needs to own a car, and that the partnership provides an alternative for eco-conscious or budget-crunching residents.

“It comes with gas, no maintenance, no insurance,” resident Walker said while picnicking in Cesar Chavez Plaza at last Thursday’s Zipcar event. “[The cars are parked] literally a couple blocks from my apartment—it works for me.”