Vitalik Schafer, Staff Writer

Most college-aged students can now rent a Zipcar./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user AJ Leon

Most college-aged students can now rent a Zipcar./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user AJ Leon

Freshmen missing their cars have another option when it comes to getting around. If you weren’t aware, Zipcar has lowered its age minimum to 18.

The program, which used to require members to be 21 or older, now accepts the majority of college students. Starting at $8 an hour, members can drive anywhere. Another great perk offered is the free 180 miles per day, without having to pay for gas. This seems like a bit of a gamble considering that college students can be somewhat irresponsible.

Zipcar spokeswoman Lindsay Wester said Zipcar wanted to provide on demand cars for campuses and students that especially needed them, which was the 18 and older crowd. To make sure that those signing up are safe drivers, Zipcar performs extensive driving record checks. The company also saw rolling out the 18 and up program at Boston University as an opportunity for everyone to have a car on a campus, especially where just 2 percent of students have a car on campus.

In a student’s college experience, it is likely that they may want to travel where the T does not go or where taking the taxi would not be an affordable option. Zipcar offers students this convenience of “wheels when you want them” with a subsidized application fee of $15 to fit that college budget.

Avis, the parent group of Zipcar, has heavily invested into BU, and has a strong relationship with the sustainability organization on campus. The goal is for students to transition into full time Zipcar users after college. Currently, there are 12 cars on campus, and the goal is to have a car for every 50 students on campus. As enrollment increases, demand will be met with new vehicles. Since the program was launched, three new spots have been added in two locations on the Boston University campus.

Another unique feature of Zipcar is its Students With Drive program. Zipcar awarded a total of $300,000 in driving grants for the 2013/2014 academic year. Through the program, students who might not be able to otherwise can get access to transportation, and in return Zipcar gets a boost in publicity and demand.

Zipcar’s rapid success in the car rental market is bound to continue to increase as the service provides an affordable and convenient way to rent cars. Car sharing is the future, as access to these vehicles by the younger generation will make Zipcar a household name in years to come. Many people may even see that using a car sharing service like Zipcar is much more affordable than owning a car.