Administration officials blamed lack of funds and student interest for the terminations. Executive Director of Facilities Management Bruce Mather made the announcement in a campus-wide email March 26.
Although senior Maggie Callahan enjoyed the program (“Who doesn’t want a free bike?”) she understands why the school had to shut it down.
“It makes no sense to keep betting on an injured horse,” Callahan said. “Not very many people appreciated the opportunity.”
The bicycle program, which started in August 2009, provided free bikes, helmets, and locks to students, faculty, and staff. In exchange, the recipients pledged to bring no motor vehicles to campus for one academic year.
Exemptions were made from Dec. 1 to Mar. 1, with Campus Security issuing marked-down parking stickers to participants. Facilities Management stored those participants’ bikes during the winter months.
Ultimately, the bike program suffered from enrollment woes.
“This year we had 96 new participants in the program and eight who continued from a prior year,” said senior vice president for Finance and Administration Denise Jones. “We believe there are more participants continuing in the program from prior years who just didn’t sign up again but continued to ride the bicycle to and from campus.”
But recent graduate and Stemple’s Cycle Center employee, Katy Alexander places some of the blame for low participation on a lack of promotion from the school.
“The only way I ever saw it promoted was online,” Alexander said. “Plus, they gave away really nice bikes, but the school didn’t really mention that – those bikes were $400, at least.”
And with a $400+ dollar price tag per bike, financial constraints certainly contributed to the bike program’s cancellation. The annual cost for the bike program has been $75,000.
The Zipcar program also began in Aug. 2009, and aimed to provide rental cars on campus for residential students without a car of their own. Students could rent them at hourly or daily rates, depending on their needs.
Fuel, insurance, and maintenance were included.
“It was a way of greening the campus,” said Jones.
“The Zipcar program was started three years ago in order to give members of the campus community who did not have a car readily available to them, the opportunity to use a vehicle periodically if they need[ed] to get somewhere,” she said.
However, like the bicycle program, not much student interest developed in the Zipcar’s brief existence.
It also cost the college “an annual fee to Zipcar of approximately $37,000 to provide two cars on campus,” according to Mather.
He cited these reasons for the ending of the program.
“The level of usage has remained minimal and in an effort to reduce our overall expenses the college has decided to discontinue the program,” Mather wrote.
Jones emphasized lack of funds as the principal reason for ending both programs.
“At this time we are suspending both programs in order to save the $112,200 in cost. Reducing expenses and increasing revenue are the two ways the college has to correct our current financial situation. Saving $112,200 helps get us there,” she said.
Jones went on to reaffirm the college’s commitment to reducing carbon output.
“We still hold firm to the original values that triggered the program[s] – campus community and a greener environment,” she said.