Zipcar is out at the University of Minnesota, and Hourcar is in.

Hourcar recently was awarded a contract to provide car sharing service at the U starting Aug. 1, said Steve Sanders, alternative transportation manager at the University of Minnesota Parking and Transportation Services department. The contract will run for the next two years.

Hourcar already has 2,000 members in Minneapolis and St. Paul, where it has provided services for years. Its expansion into the University of Minnesota area seems to be a natural fit since about 25 percent of Hourcar's users are students, said Mary Morse, an Hourcar spokeswoman.

Hourcar will park 10 vehicles on campus in near the Washington Avenue Ramp (between Union and Harvard Streets), the 21st Avenue Ramp at 4th Street and 21st Av. S., the Printing Services building at 29th and Como Avenues SE., and at Sanford Hall and Frontier Hall.

Most of the vehicles will be small economical vehicles such as Honda Civics, Honda Fits and Toyota Prius', but there will be at least one pickup truck available, Morse said.

"Cars are expensive and students are among the most cost-conscious of any consumer group," Morse said about Hourcar's desire to enter the university market. "We can help them save money and give them an entry into a life that doesn't requre constant driving."

Zipcar had provided car sharing services at the U for the past six years. But Sanders said Hourcar offered better insurance, one reason for the change.  

Students and staff with current Zipcar memberships will be given a $35 transportation credit to cover the cost of joining Hourcar. New members - students, faculty and staff - will pay a $35 membership fee. All  users pay a flat $8 per hour no matter what type of vehicle they use. The simple pricing structure also helped Hourcar win the contract, Sanders said.

Hourcar continutes to bolster its presence in Minneapolis and St. Paul. In addition to adding 10 vehicles at the U, the car sharing service currently has 47 vehicles for community use and plans to have 80 by 2014.



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