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Zipcar is launching bike-share programs on 15 college campuses

Is bike-sharing is the new car-sharing?

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Car-sharing service Zipcar is partnering with a bike-share company called Zagster to launch bike-sharing services on 15 college campuses, the companies announced Thursday. They’re calling it “the first national sponsored mobility solution designed for universities.”

Dubbed Zipbike, the new program won’t officially launch until January 2017, starting with 10 schools and then spreading to a total of 15 by the end of the year. Students and faculty can rent out cars and bikes using one app and one membership, the companies say.

“The goal is to make Zipbike the standard for bike sharing on hundreds of campuses nationwide over the next few years,” David Piperno, vice president of finance and strategy at Zipcar, said in a statement.

“The goal is to make Zipbike the standard for bike sharing”

Cost will vary across individual Zipbike programs based on input from each university. In general, though, Zipcar says the cost to riders will be in line with most other bike-share programs, which include a small membership fee, with a set amount of free time per ride followed by a flat hourly rate. The announcement comes as Zipcar is experimenting with new price options, offering pay-per-mile plans in some US cities rather than the per-hour system the company is known for.

Zipcar, which is a subsidiary of Avis, has seen a rise in competition lately, both from other car-sharing services like Car2Go (owned by Daimler) and traditional car manufacturers like GM’s Maven. Meanwhile, Ford recently announced that it would be adding its own branded bikes to San Francisco’s bike-share program through a partnership with global bike-share operator Motivate.

In other words, a lot of businesses are finding that dealing exclusively in cars isn’t cutting it anymore. Customer tastes are shifting from personal car ownership to car-sharing, ride-sharing, carpooling, and privatized transit.

Or at least that’s what the corporate executives are telling us. How widely used these new services are is still up for debate. The American Public Transportation Association recently surveyed 4,500 people in seven cities. They found that while an overwhelming number use public transit like subways and buses — around 65 percent — far less were using bike-sharing (11 percent), car-sharing (12 percent), and ride-sharing (10 percent).