Zipcar expands Cincinnati offerings to Downtown, Over-the-Rhine

Yesterday, Mayor Mark Mallory (D) announced that Zipcar was expanding its car sharing service in Cincinnati to the Central Business District and Over-the-Rhine.

“Partnering with Zipcar here in Cincinnati is an excellent opportunity to reduce congestion and parking demand, save people money, and provide access for people who would otherwise not be able to go about their day-to-day activities,” Mayor Mark Mallory said.

Until recently, Zipcar had only been available in big cities with more comprehensive mass transportation options; however Zipcar began testing its service with University of Cincinnati students and faculty last year. The initial service has blossomed into the full service being announced today.  Three “pods” of two cars each will be located in both neighborhoods as well as the two University of Cincinnati locations.

Driving a Zipcar requires a membership which can be obtained through their website. From there, members reserve a car for a certain amount of time and use it during the day. Members then use a key card or their smartphones to gain access to the designated car. Rates on Zipcar vehicles in Cincinnati start as low as $8.50 per hour and $69 per day. Gas, reserved parking spots, insurance, roadside assistance and up to 180 miles per day are included in the hourly and daily Zipcar rates on all Zipcar vehicles. Cars can be reserved for time periods as short as an hour or for up to several days.

Users of smartphones such as iPhones and Android devices, may download the Zipcar mobile application to make reservations, lock and unlock the vehicles as well as honk the horn to help locate the vehicle. Members can also use Zipcar’s “Reserve a Zipcar” app on Facebook to view available Zipcars and make, extend or cancel a reservation all from their Facebook account. Reservations can also be made over the phone or by using the Zipcar website.

The introduction of Zipcar could bring car sharing closer to reality city employees as well. As previously reported by UrbanCincy, the City of Cincinnati has been investigating ways  to reduce its city-owned fleet and instead use car-sharing services such as  Zipcar for certain city departments. This idea may gain some traction as City Council moves into budget season and begins to look for ways to close this year’s budget gap.

It had also been recently mentioned as a policy point by City Councilmember P.G. Sittenfield (D) in a recent e-mail. In it he states, “our fleet must more precisely match the need, and we should ensure that we are optimizing car-sharing and minimizing fleet that sits idle.”

City officials have disclosed to UrbanCincy that utilizing the car sharing service will allow the city to reduce the number of pool cars the city owns.

  • Tony DeBlasio

    I love the concept, but comparing options, I can’t tell if it makes sense dollar wise. I know it covers gas and insurance, but if you’re doing the full day rental, wouldn’t it be cheaper just to walk a few blocks and rent a car from Avis / Budet / Hertz? Do these additional costs make it a better option after the annual membership? It definitely serves its purposes for a few hours getaway or for car-sharing, but I’d like to hear from someone’s experience if it is worthwhile for the daily rental since I contemplated using the Zipcar in Clifton earlier this year instead of renting from Avis on 4th Street as I ended up doing for a multi-day trip. I do hope that it finds its niche here in Cincinnati and proves successful enough to expand.

    • Car sharing makes the most sense for people who can take transit, bike, or walk for most of their day-to-day trips but need a car for occasional use. That’s not the case for many Cincinnatians yet, but it certainly makes sense for some.

    • I would say the cheapest you could rent a car on such short notice with the traditional rental companies is around $42 per day, and you have to pay for all the fuel – fill it up when you return, so that gets expensive. Zipcar is convenient because you can pick it up and drop it off whenever you need to, don’t need to sign in every time you take a car out, just reserve it and go. Economically it is often a close call, but Zipcar can be the superior option especially for those who only need cars for a short time, need to extend their rental a few hours without being charged an additional day, etc.

  • I’ve been a Zipcar member for six years and have been car-free for seven. For long distrance trips, renting from a standard rental car agency is definitely cheaper. I have to drive to Memphis this spring and I’ll be renting from Hertz. However, just last week I took a trip up to Columbus and spent the night. It was easier to rent from Zipcar for the day because I didn’t have to put a deposit down on my credit card and I was able to pick up and drop off the car at 4am. Also, I find it incredibly convenient to travel to other cities with my Zipcar membership. My sister lives in suburban Chicago. On a recent trip to Milwaukee via Greyhound Express, I had a four hour layover in downtown Chicago. Instead of sitting at the station, I decided to pick up a car a few blocks away and drive to my sister’s place. Zipcar isn’t always the cheapest option, but it makes my car-free lifestyle SO MUCH easier.

    One note, the article says that rates start at $8.50/hr but there are actually two $7.50/hr cars at UC.