Toyota's comprehensive safety recall of some of its most popular vehicles has attained widespread scrutiny, and Geneseo has not escaped the controversy.
"We are going to hold their feet to the fire," said Raymond Lahood, United States secretary of transportation, in a statement on Feb. 9. Safety concerns and several mishaps attributed to entrapped accelerator pedals have led the automaker to recall millions of its vehicles, urged by the Department of Transportation.
The concerns began with reports that drivers of Camry and Lexus models were experiencing problems with gas pedals getting caught under the floor mats, causing the vehicles to accelerate out of control.
After hundreds of accident reports began to pour in related to faulty braking, Toyota recalled even more vehicles including Camry, Prius and Tacoma models.
It is unclear how long many of these models will be in recall, or the long-term effect on the Japanese corporation's status as the world's leading car manufacturer. Some estimates forecast losses of over $2 billion as a result of the public relations fallout.
"I apologize from the bottom of my heart for all the concern that we have given to so many customers," said Akio Toyoda, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation, at his first conference since the Jan. 21 recall.
Both of the cars in Geneseo's Zipcar program were affected by the recall. The Matrix has been repaired, although the Prius remains unavailable for use by students.
"This is an unfolding story, but Toyota has shown responsibility," said Kathleen Trainor, staff associate for transportation services at the college.
The Zipcar program is offered to applicants who are at least 18 years old and have a valid license with at least one year of clean driving records. About 50 students have applied for the program since its inception last semester.
"I think they're a good a good option if you don't have a car and need to get somewhere that isn't on the bus route," said sophomore Kristen Kolb, "but I think it would be too expensive for everyday use."
The cars have a $35 annual fee and run at $8 per hour during the week and $9 per hour on weekends.
Transportation Services said it has not made a final decision on whether the recall will affect the long-term prospects of the program. "Safety is our top priority for the users of these cars," Trainor said.
A full list of the vehicles affected by the recall is available at dot.gov.