The University of Kentucky has partnered with Hertz to offer students the option to rent vehicles on campus by the hour.
Connect by Hertz requires renters to provide their driver's license numbers and then pass background checks that review driving records over the past year. Applicants then receive membership cards that act as the keys to the six vehicles that are spread throughout four locations on campus and range in costs from $8 to $10 hourly.
"To rent, you go online and tell them when you need the car — day and time — and ... it'll send you a text message and email telling you where the car is," said Hertz spokeswoman Lemore Hecht. "You simply walk up to the car, swipe the key (to unlock) and drive away."
The hourly rate includes the costs of gas and insurance. The vehicles have a limit of 180 miles daily. After that, every mile costs 45 cents. If a car's tank is running low, a gas card located inside can be used to pay for fill-ups.
Hecht said the program helps students because it eliminates the costs associated with owning a vehicle, such as gas and insurance, and it can help students in case of an emergency.
"For our students who don't have cars or employees who don't bring cars to campus, when used in combination with some of our alternate transportation services — CATS buses, LexTran, Wildcat Wheels and the Ride Home Express — we thought this filled a gap," said Chrissie Balding Tune with UK Parking and Transportation Services.
The six cars are parked near campus bus stops in spots that are patrolled at all times to prevent others from parking there.
Tune said she thinks the program is helpful to the freshmen and sophomores who did not bring cars to campus, students who need to get to the grocery store or an important meeting off campus, and even those who may not get the best gas mileage with a hand-me-down vehicle.
"A lot of (students) rented for the Final Four," she said. "People actually rented the car for four days."
One of them was Amanda Johnson, who traveled to the games in Houston with a few friends. Johnson, who is 18, may not have been able to rent a car through other rental companies, which usually require customers to be 21.
"Once you're on your way ... it's really easy, and dealing with the program is really easy as well," Johnson said.
The program also has benefits for students who study overseas, Hertz's Hecht said, as the rental company has locations in cities including London, Paris, Madrid and Berlin.
"You can still use the benefits of the program wherever you are," she said.