The Daily Gamecock

Car rental program offers students inexpensive rides

Connect by Hertz now available

While expanding parking lots and commissioning hybrid cars may be far off, USC's Vehicle Management and Parking Services is working on promoting and expanding its new car rental program as a solution to heavy traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.

USC officially partnered with Connect by Hertz, an international pay-as-you-go car membership club, in November and is the club's only participating South Carolina school so far. The program allows students and faculty to apply online for a free membership to access a set of cars that can be rented out by the hour.

Once a member, students and faculty can choose to rent one of four cars: one of two Toyota Prii at a rate of $8 per hour, a MINI Cooper or a Ford Escape, each at rate of $9 per hour. These rates cover gas, insurance and maintenance. The cars are available 24/7 but must be reserved ahead of time at

Each car also comes with a GPS turn-by-turn navigation, an iPod adaptor, Bluetooth technology, roadside assistance and 24-hour access to an in-house member care center, and cars are serviced each month by Hertz.

"The program has met success with the student body in its three months of existence," said Theresa Tillman-Smith, Parking Services liaison for USC Connect. "Each month, Connect by Hertz receives more and members."

The car-share program is especially popular among international students, who can obtain a U.S. driver's license without the trouble of having to buy or rent their own vehicles expensively. Graduate student and West (Green) Quad intern Myoung Su Ko said the program resembles the more environmentally friendly public transportation system she is accustomed to in South Korea.

"In Korea, you pay once for a subway that you can ride as often as you want for free, and every transit system is connected. It's much better than everyone just driving cars," said Ko. "This country is so large, and it's sad that there's not a better public transportation system. I love this idea because it can be seen as a form of public transportation, and it allows [international students] to test for their license and rent a car only when they need it."

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., accounting for 47 percent of the increase in total national emissions since 1990.

Transportation is also the primary source of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas.

"[Sustainability] was one of the things that got us interested," Vehicle Management employee Chris Howard said. "Ideally, this will hopefully cut down on the number of cars driving around campus, and the vehicles Hertz provides for service are ecologically responsible."

Smith said Parking Services would like to include hybrid cars in the system by the end of the year, but first they need to increase membership. She anticipates that after promoting the service to student organizations, especially orientation services, USC Connect will have significantly more members by the end of the next fall semester. Whether or not students decide to take advantage of this service remains to be seen. First-year media arts student Justin Epperson said he thinks the program's success will depend on heavy endorsement and encouragement of students to make a lifestyle change.

"Students in general are really busy," Epperson said. "They're doing so much at once, and it's hard to find the time to plan out exactly when they'll need a ride somewhere ... That's why students find it more convenient to drive their own cars. It's all about getting the info out and letting people know that if you need a ride, the service is there."

Connect by Hertz currently operates in over 50 cities and 40 universities in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, France and Canada. To apply for membership, visit, and select USC's location.