Student commuters desiring energy-efficient travel will now have greater access to university rental cars as a result of UCSB’s newest addition to its rideshare program – a service that was previously limited mostly to campus professors and staff.

The UCSB Transportation Alternatives Program, which offers bike and bus programs as well as carpooling services, recently adopted Flexcar’s ridesharing plan, which includes two Honda Civic Hybrids available for the UCSB community to rent. TAP’s original carshare program featured Toyota Priuses, but was closed to most students due to the program’s lack of insurance coverage. According to TAP Manager James Wagner, the company has plans to expand its services to Isla Vista and downtown Santa Barbara.

“TAP wanted more participants to experience the many benefits of carsharing,” Wagner said. “The Flexcar program is open to all faculty, staff, students and neighbors of UCSB.”

He said the cars would especially benefit community members who have no need for a car other than to complete small errands.

“Thousands of UCSB commuters use carpool, vanpool, bike, scooter, skates, bus or train to get to campus and they are most interested in finding ways to do errands rapidly,” Wagner said. “Flexcar at UCSB will serve this need.”

The green vehicles also offer a variety of payment plans. Flexcar members have the option of paying by the hour or $60 per day. Both rates cover gasoline, insurance, a reserved parking space, maintenance, roadside assistance and 24-hour customer service. TAP also subsidizes the hourly rate for UCSB Flexcar members from the usual $10 per hour to a rate of $5.50 per hour, Wagner said.

Academic and Staff Assistance Program Coordinator John Berberet said the new program is a step up for staff and faculty who used UCSB’s former carshare program.

“Flexcar can be reserved for longer than two hours, the maximum allowed under the old Transportation Alternatives Program,” Berberet said. “This gives me greater flexibility in my travel options.”

In order to become a Flexcar member, candidates must have a clean driving record free of traffic citations and collisions. They must also have at least two years of driving experience.

According to Associate Director of Career Services Don Lubach, smug hybrid owners will now have some new energy-efficient competition to look out for on the road.

“A lot of folks feel very self-satisfied with their hybrid vehicles,” Lubach said. “The Flexcar trumps all hybrids in that the user doesn’t even have to own a car at all.”

Flexcar plans to assess the popularity of the program at UCSB and add more cars to satisfy demands in the future.

The $35 first-year membership fee is waived for persons who apply to Flexcar by Nov. 28, 2007. Candidates can also waive membership fees for the upcoming year if they have driven the car at least twice in the previous year. Wagner said TAP members also receive $50 toward Flexcar rentals upon signing up.

Customers can reserve cars online or by phone for as little as half an hour or for as much as three days. If a car is available, members can use them immediately or they can reserve one up to a year in advance. Additional information is available at