by Ellen Olack, AmeriCorps VISTA | September 14, 2015
College comes with many expenses—tuition, books, housing, groceries, etc. Luckily for me, a car was not one of them. People are always shocked to learn that I do not have a car, but in Oxford it’s easy! I don’t have to worry about car notes, insurance, gas, repairs or parking decals, which can accumulate to cost the average college student between $1,000 to $3,000 dollars annually.
My ideal mode of transportation, both living on and off campus, is biking. Registration with the UM Bike Shop was free and lasts for four years. For those who are bikeless and carless, walking is also a form of free transportation. However, some days the weather is not permitting. My apartment complex has a convenient bus stop to get me where I need to go on stormy days whether it be to campus for work or the farmers market for groceries. NextBus, the free OUT Bus phone app is very helpful in determining arrival times. The OUT Bus is convenient and free when you show your Ole Miss student, faculty or staff ID. Each bus is equipped with a bike rack which is great if you plan to return home after hours, wish to bike around campus without commuting or if you’re ever caught biking in a rain shower.
Although Oxford is my home, I enjoy traveling. Zimride, an online networking site for finding and sharing rides in and out of town, is a wonderful resource available to the Ole Miss Community. Another great asset is Zipcar. I have used Zipcar on countless occasions to discover places outside of the Oxford public transit perimeter. The two cars are conveniently located on campus, so I am never stuck in the conundrum of finding a ride to pick up my ride! The annual membership fee is affordable, and gas and insurance is included in the rate which start from $7.50/hr to $69/day before tax. When you sign up as a students, faculty, or staff of the University of Mississippi the annual membership is reduced to $25 dollars, the application fee is waived, and you receive $35 in driving credit. Or, you can try it for a month for only $7. Either option is less than what you would pay for a University Parking Decal that ranges from $75-150 and does not guarantee you a parking spot much less a spot near where you need to be.
Zipcar is accessible to anyone with a valid driver’s license and, unlike other car rental establishments, there is no fee for drivers under 25. All reservations are made online or using a mobile device in seconds. No waiting on lines or hoping your reservation is done correctly. Zipcar is a national company meaning your Zipcar Card gives you access to cars wherever your travels lead you. I have even reserved a car while at a conference in Washington, D.C.
I love not having to worry about paying monthly car notes, insurance bills or keeping my gas tank filled, but still having the option to drive. Plus I can feel good about reducing my personal carbon footprint by using a more sustainable alternative to an individual vehicle. So whether I need a relaxing afternoon at Sardis or a full weekend away, Zipcar makes it possible.
About the author: Ellen Olack is serving in the UM Office of Sustainability with the North Mississippi VISTA Project, a Domestic Peace Corps Project. She graduated from the University of Mississippi in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Spanish.When she isn’t on the clock, Ellen enjoys knitting, traveling and trying new recipes.