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Mayor David J. Narkewicz announced today that he has requested that Zipcar Inc., the world’s leading car sharing network, come to downtown Northampton. Based on national studies, two Zipcars downtown could replace up to 30 private cars.

In his announcement, the Mayor said

“Zipcar is a cost-effective solution to help us reduce traffic congestion, free up more parking spaces for shoppers, workers, and visitors, and make urban living more convenient. We look forward to Zipcar adding vehicles for downtown Northampton once we secure the necessary approvals from the Transportation and Parking Commission and the City Council.”

Smith College introduced two Zipcars in August 2006 as part of their sustainability initiative.  Because of that measure the City reduced the number of parking spaces Smith College needed to create in order to serve Ford Hall’s parking demand. Today, Smith College’s Zipcar fleet has grown to six cars.

A significant portion of the Smith College Zipcar membership is from non-Smith College community members (including Mayor Narkewicz), indicating a strong public demand. The effort to expand downtown will help serve these members as well as new members and visitors to Northampton.

City of Northampton: Parking Garage

If approved, the new Zipcars would be located in the downtown John Gare III Parking Garage, located 4/10th of a mile from the Smith College Parking Garage.

The new location will expand Zipcar’s service offerings to an even  larger clientele who can now consider reducing personal car ownership by providing more opportunities for Zipcar members to have access to “wheels when you want them”.

The City’s Sustainable Northampton Comprehensive Plan identified the opportunity to bring a shared car service to Northampton, beyond Smith College, but the program was not feasible until now.

A required recommendation from the city’s Transportation and Parking Commission on Zipcar is expected to come at its next scheduled meeting on Tuesday February 18th. The necessary ordinance and lease approval will then head to City Council.


Featured image courtesy of felixkramer on Flickr via Creative Commons.