Tag Archives: Volkswagen

Efficient Urban Transportation in a Zip

February 24, 2017 by

Living in a technologically advanced world has its advantages, like convenience and fiscal recompenses we never could have envisioned.

As a Los Angeles native who paid car insurance the price of a mortgage in some places, one new convenience I can appreciate is Zipcar.

The program has graced Omaha with its presence for seven years. Zipcar was founded in 2000 by Antje Danielson, current director of education at MIT Energy Initiative, and  Robin Chase, co-founder of French chartering service Buzzcar. The pair created Zipcar to provide a more efficient, affordable method of driving in the city.

Zipcar P.R. manager Lindsay Wester, who is based in Boston, explains that Zipcar is as simple as join, reserve, and drive.

Business customers begin by signing up online, where they pay a one-time setup fee of $75 and annual membership dues of $35 for each driver. This membership covers fuel, insurance, mileage, parking, and maintenance. Individuals can pay a $25 one-time setup fee annual dues of $70, or a monthly fee of $7 plus the one-time setup fee.

The Omaha fleet includes two Honda Civics and a Ford Escape. The Hondas and the Ford cost $8.50 per hour Monday through Thursday, or $69 per day. The Friday through Sunday rate is $9.50 per hour, or $77 per day for the Hondas and $83 per day for the Escape.  The other car available in Omaha is a Volkswagen Jetta, which costs $9 per hour or $69 daily at all times. The cars are parked on Creighton and UNMC’s campuses, downtown at 17th Street and Capitol Avenue, and at Mammel Hall near Aksarben Village.

Upon becoming a member, the company sends the user a Zipcard, which functions as an entry key. The ignition key stays inside the vehicle. Each user gets one card with their membership, which gives them access to Zipcar’s nationwide fleet. Upon reserving a car, the company digitally connects the Zipcard to the specific car reserved. The user gains access to the vehicle by holding the card to the card reader placed in the windshield. After scanning in with the Zipcard, a user’s smartphone can be a backup to the Zipcard for locking or unlocking the car doors throughout a reservation.

The company first brought their concept to Omaha in 2010, launching at Creighton University, followed by University of Nebraska in 2012, then the Medical Center in October 2015. In Omaha, the target market has been students, but Zipcars also are useful for travelers.

Melanie Stewart, sustainability manager at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine, is in charge of UNMC’s program.

“Last year we had a visiting professor come in, and they had a friend in Lincoln, so they used a Zipcar to visit their friend while in Omaha,” Stewart says.

The Zipcars are also used by visitors of patients who may need to purchase supplies or just take a break from being at the hospital.

Patrick Lin, a 21-year-old Omaha resident, says, “I used Zipcar roughly four to six hours every week during my sophomore year. I first heard about it from some friends in California because they couldn’t have cars during their first year at college.”

Lin enjoys the ability to use a car when needed without the expense of owning it. “Personally, it allows a lot more to get done compared to other services. The only restraint I have is that since there is a time limit, you must plan your activities accordingly. But the per-mile usage you can get when a trip is planned right is entirely worth the time constraints,” he says.

Wester says that Zipcar has remained successful and growing for more than a decade and a half. And as city dwellers become more disenchanted with the idea of owning cars, their success should continue to accelerate.

Visit zipcar.com for more information.

This article was printed in the Spring 2017 edition of B2B.

Beep Beep

August 11, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Beep Beep is no ordinary bus. It is a fully restored “sealing wax red” and white splitty Volkswagen (“splitty” refers to the two-panel windshield). The bus, named Beep Beep, was also its owner’s long-lost honeymoon ride.

BeepBeep1Beep Beep’s 86-year-old owner, John Adair, is a multifaceted businessperson. Adair calls himself an “educational entrepreneur” because of his experience starting several Montessori schools in Omaha. He is also the co-founder of U.S. Assets, a nearly 25-year-old tax business that buys delinquent property taxes from various states, pays them, and profits from penalty collections. The delinquent taxes, he explains, are crucial to funding schools. Adair also serves on a number of nonprofit boards.

Adair’s philosophy is not about profit. Rather, he believes in generosity, free-spiritedness, harmony, love, friendship, and family. These ideals, Adair says, are embodied in his choice of vehicle: a 1960 Volkswagen Microbus Deluxe-SO 22.

Auto restoration expert Mike Carroll, proprietor of Air Cooled Express in Bennington, helped to bring Beep Beep back to life. Carroll says the bus model is the “high line of (VW) busses,” characterized by “nice chrome and a fancy interior—all of the amenities offered back then, and from Germany.

He received Beep Beep from Adair via flatbed. When Carroll first saw the bus, he says it “looked like an unfixable wreck…It sat in a forest for 40 years.” The bus had changed owners many times since Adair’s initial possession. It had served many roles: from family van, to television sales vehicle, to being a storage container.

Adair rescued the abandoned, rusting, and hopelessly immobile Beep Beep from an Iowa forest in 2014. Long before that time, Beep Beep carried Adair and his wife, Rosemarie, across Germany during their 1960 honeymoon.

BeepBeep3Beep Beep was “born in Hanover (Germany), same as Rosemarie,” says Adair. He purchased the vehicle on behalf of his father with the agreement that he could use the bus on his wedding trip in Europe.

Beep Beep’s first outing was in the Swiss Alps. After the honeymoon, Adair relinquished Beep Beep to his father and subsequently became estranged from the vehicle until 40 years later, when a family friend asked what had become of the bus. They traced the bus to its resting place in the forest.

Carroll restored the bus with the help of mechanic Terry Wolfe. It took one-and-a-half years to complete the project. Carroll notes that parts for this bus are obscure or almost impossible to find. He faced the challenge of repairing original parts instead of replacing them.

“I repaired everything I could,” he says. Other parts he located internationally. Carroll accredits the upholstery to Sky’s Interior Shop, and the paint and body work to Extreme Paint (both of which are located in Fremont). Carroll says, “when we put that last piece in there, it just about brought a tear to your eye to see it.”

Since the complete restoration, the bus has earned first place in the Restored Class at the World of Wheels show in March 2016, and Best in Class and Best in Show in the Omaha VW Club show in June 2016. Adair says that Beep Beep “is symbolic of happiness” and “the free spirit of living.”

Adair says that Beep Beep “went from an ‘I can’ car to an ‘icon’ car.”

*Correction: Due to an editing error, the September/October 2016 print edition incorrectly identified Adair’s wife as deceased.

Visit omahavwclub.com for more information. B2B