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Zooming with Zum

Catherine Bowman, Features Editor

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Parking has been a long standing issue at Pres. From complaints that the size of the parking lot is too small, to the constant battle with Presentation’s neighbors over students parking in the neighborhood, there seems to always be a problem pertaining to where to keep our cars.

And it makes sense: with more than 800 students, along with many faculty and staff, Presentation has a lot of cars. The solution — building a parking garage (some students even want it to be underground) —  may seem like a good option in theory, but parking garages are incredibly expensive and take up a lot of space.

An additional barrier to the elimination of the need to park cars on and around campus is the law in California that prohibits students from driving other students until the license holder has had her license for a year. This poses a problem because many 16-year-olds have their licenses and the ability to drive themselves, but it is not possible for them to drive others to school, thus requiring each student with a license for less than a year to drive her own car or find a different carpooling solution.

That’s where Zūm comes in. According to Vice Principal of Student Activities Timothy Case, “[Zūm] is kind of like an Uber for schools. It is not the same in the sense that the drivers are any random person that signs up with the company, they have a lot more strict guidelines in terms of who can be a driver, how it’s managed, how they happen. But it is a ridesharing program as well as a carpool service.”

Zūm’s website goes a little bit more in depth, explaining how the service was created to help working parents deal with the struggle of juggling work and the various activities that their children are involved in. For Pres, this can translate into working parents not having to worry about leaving work early to pick up their children on time for their sports or other commitments, and instead just hiring Zūm to assist.

Presentation is endorsing this new service in the hopes that families will use it to carpool to and from school, as well as being used for things like transportation of smaller sports teams to their off campus games and/or practice locations. In addition, Pres is hoping that many students and families will choose to use this service rather than driving to school themselves, and parking on campus and in the neighborhoods.

“Our goal here is if there are really affordable carpool options for people, that they may choose to in fact use them and that could decrease the number of cars that are needed to park on campus, alleviate some of parking congestion that exists, and potentially improve our relationship with neighbors because we could demonstrate that we are in fact making good faith efforts to try to alleviate some of those concerns,” Case says.

Another way Presentation can benefit by promoting the use of  Zūm is the goal that Zūm will help encourage people who live far away to come to Presentation. A big factor for many people who live in places like San Francisco or Santa Cruz is the commute, and these people are less likely to choose a school that puts them well out of their way.

However, Zūm can provide an incentive to help encourage families who live outside of San Jose to come by making the commute easier both to and from school. Parents’ stress can be brought down if they no longer have to worry about not only getting their child to school on time, fighting through traffic, but also about getting to their own jobs.

Director of Admissions Dina Cannizzaro weighs in on these families, explaining how she often gets asked if Pres has a transportation system by prospective families. Additionally, many families that live far away don’t believe Pres is even a possibility, but Zūm might be able to fix this.

“We already go visit those schools and everything, but I think it’s going to make it seem a lot more palatable to them and adds a possibility. Where before I think they would hear and they would be like ‘gosh I wish my daughter could go there but it’s just not a possibility.’ Now it’s going to become a possibility,” Cannizzaro says.

However, one concern is cost. Typical rates listed on the company’s website show that even distances as short as a a mile will cost $18. If a person is commuting from a place like Palo Alto, the cost shoots up to around $45 one way. Although the cost will go down as more people are riding in the car, at the moment with so few people using it, the price is quite high. It requires people thinking about using this service to ask the question: is it worth the price?
According to Case, the implementation of this service is in the very early stages. Presentation has high hopes that it will be something that eventually many students will end up using, therefore reducing the “footprint” that Presentation has on its surrounding neighborhood. Hopefully in the future Zūm will become something that the students of Pres can rely on to get to school.

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