Live downtown or on campus, but don't have a car? Well, good news, kids. As of -- hopefully -- January, the car-sharing service Zipcar will be operating in Knoxville!
At Monday night's CBID residential meeting, Knoxville Transportation Planner Kelley Segars said two parking spaces on the Gay Street viaduct right next to the 100 Block will be permanently set aside for two Zipcars once the City Council approves some minor changes to the law, which is set for tonight's agenda. There will also be two Zipcars on UT's campus, although Segars couldn't remember exactly where the spots will be located.
Zipcars, in case you haven't been to a bigger city in the past few years and seen them around, are rental cars that you just use for an hour or two. You pay a membership fee to belong to Zipcar, which gives you a keycard to access the car, and then you reserve the car online for the hours you need it -- and during that time, only your specific keycard will open the car, so you never have to worry about someone else swiping it if you've got a reservation. You pay an hourly fee to rent the car, which includes gas and insurance, and that rate can fluctuate depending on the time of day or if it's a weekend. Best of all, unlike rental car companies, you don't have to be 25 -- anyone over 21 can rent a Zipcar, and if you're a UT student, you only have to be 18!
The news gets even better though -- Segars said that the city has received a federal transportation grant for $115,000 that will pay for the annual membership fee (usually around $60, although Zipcar's website shows different rates for different cities) for at least the first year. She said that assuming the ordinance changes go through without a hitch, Zipcar hopes to be up and running by the end of January. And although the project is only starting with just the four Zipcars, Segars said the company is interested in adding more if business takes off.