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Zipcar subsidies make transit more affordable for staff, grad students

MIT has upped its sponsorship of Zipcar membership for staff and graduate students, making it more affordable to use the self-service rental cars with pickup spots located near campus.

Staff and graduate students are now exempted from the one-time $30 application fee and the $300 refundable security deposit. The annual fee, normally $75, is reduced to $20. That $20 fee in turn will be credited as a nonrefundable down payment toward users' driving charges each year.

Zipcar has added a parking spot at the new graduate dorm at 70 Pacific St., with another planned for October at a location to be determined. Existing spots near campus include the MIT Kendall Square Lot next to the inbound Kendall subway kiosk, the Draper Lab parking garage at Broadway and Portland streets, the Westgate lot, and the Star Market parking garage at Sydney and Green streets.

Zipcar users can reserve a car for as little as an hour, walk to a parking location, unlock the car with a proximity card, drive away and return it to the same location by the agreed time. The service is useful for those who don't own a car but need one occasionally, or for people who own a car but commute to campus by public transportation and occasionally need a car during the day.

Driving charges for all users are $5 to $8 per hour with maximum daily charges of $55 to $75. Most Zipcars based near MIT cost $5 to $6 per hour.

MIT faculty, staff and graduate students who are already Zipcar members are entitled to a refund of their security deposit under the MIT-sponsored plan; contact Zipcar for this refund. Anyone with questions may call Alison Altschuller at (617) 995-4226 or e-mail Questions about eligibility can be sent to Larry Brutti in the Parking and Transportation Office at 253-5142 or

To use Zipcar, go to and click on "apply" at the top of the page. Select "I'm affiliated with an existing organization." Enter "MIT" and choose the "MIT--Staff and Grads" account. Zipcar will verify your employment at MIT and process your application electronically.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on August 28, 2002.

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