This past Wednesday, the worldwide vehicle-sharing program Zipcar installed two stations in Collingswood, with both cars available for residents to borrow and return.
Zipcar said the new stations—which feature a Nissan Sentra parked in front of on Haddon Avenue, and a Honda CR-V parked near the Collingswood PATCO high speed line station—will help reduce the borough's carbon footprint and reduce congestion and emissions generated by a large population of car owners.
The program reports it currently has more than 9,000 vehicles shared by over 605,000 individuals across the country.
And after stations were installed—each are marked with Zipcar signage and program pamphlets at the curbside—borough residents discussed Collingswood's initiation into the Zipcar phenomenon.
“Selfishly, I like it because it’s parked in front of my store,” said Sam Caruso, owner of Arts Plus Gallery.
Arts Plus is the oldest established business in town, situated at the intersection of Haddon and Collings avenues, making it an excellent contact point for prospective Zipcar users.
Caruso said he was approached by borough administration, who proposed to designate one street parking space in front of his gallery as a Zipcar station.
Zipcar helped seal the deal for Caruso, explaining that the company would be willing to move the Nissan Sentra to another location—in the LumberYard parking lot—during high-traffic occurrences like festivals, anticipated snow dates and other borough-required instances.
“We could use every spot we can (near the Zipcar station on Haddon Avenue), but this one is visible and close to the center of town,” Caruso said. “Why hide it?”
But there's yet to be an even consensus among all of Caruso's employees.
Jessica Hart, an Arts Plus Gallery employee, said although she feels Zipcar is a good idea, she doesn’t think the Nissan Sentra should occupy “a prime spot in the center of town.”
“It doesn’t really add any revenue to the center of town,” Hart said. "(Because Zipcar users will take that vehicle and) drive somewhere they can't otherwise get to, and spend their money elsewhere.”
Hart said she believes downtown Collingswood lacks adequate handicapped parking spaces, and the borough should have remedied this shortage before reserving spots for a car-sharing service.
Borough resident Tom Pancrazio told Patch he has trouble understanding how Zipcar's effort is a revolutionary new incentive.
“I don’t understand the difference between (Zipcar) and Enterprise Rent-a-Car,” he said.
But Pancrazio—who'd been walking his bike down Haddon Avenue when he spoke with Patch—said Collingswood is a bike- and pedestrian-friendly town, a place where residents do not necessarily need to drive each day. This fact, he said, may make Zipcar a beneficial tool for locals.
“I (can think of) plenty of situations when having an accessible rental car for the day is awesome,” he said. “I have a feeling it will be fairly successful.”
Heidi Rivel, who works nearby in Philadelphia, said she knows plenty of Center City residents who utilize auto-sharing services like Zipcar.
“I know grad students in West Philadelphia who will pool together for a day just to do grocery shopping, or to go to Lowe’s or Home Depot,” said Rivel.
While Jay Majusiak, of Runnemede, said Zipcar's two-station debut in Collingswood might draw-in PATCO transit commuters, he said he'd never use the service himself.
“I have two cars already,” Majusiak said.
Read for Patch's full story on Zipcar's arrival in Collingswood.