Campus Carpooling System Reduces Travel Costs, Traffic Congestion; Enhances Environmental Footprint
EKU joined many universities and businesses nationwide two years ago in providing a carpooling system for faculty, staff and students, and the response has been very positive.
EKU Rides (www.rides.eku.edu), a social carpooling system powered by Zimride Inc., enables members of the University community to safely and easily find carpool partners by joining existing rides or adding rides of their own.
According to Markus Cross in the University’s Office of Public Relations, who has been using the system since it began in 2008, “it just makes sense.”
Users can create a profile directly on EKU Rides or log in using a Facebook account. EKU Rides can be accessed either from the “Green Initiatives” link at the bottom of the EKU homepage, from the EKU Parking Web page, and from various other Eastern Web pages.
The system offers a great deal of flexibility. Users may find different partners for different days of the week, and different semesters. Users are never committed to carpooling on any given day.
Cross typically switches driving responsibilities with another carpooler every day, splitting the cost of gas and car maintenance in half. If for some reason, one of them has another commitment – a doctor’s appointment, for example – they just pick up the carpooling schedule the next day.
“The benefits of carpooling outweigh any slight inconvenience that may be caused by the arrangement,” Cross said.
Carpooling has multiple benefits, including saving money, access to good parking spaces, helping the planet and building community.
A large portion of personal income is spent on cars, gasoline, and car maintenance. Carpooling can significantly reduce money spent on gas, reduce wear and tear on your car or defray costs of car maintenance. Some carpoolers may trade off doing the driving, as Cross does; others may charge passengers for rides.
Zimride has estimated that for every 1,000 users, the monetary savings exceed $50,000.
On EKU’s main campus, premium parking spaces are designated for faculty and staff carpoolers in the Martin and Jones lots (and in the Alumni Coliseum lot for students). More designated spaces were approved on Nov. 15.
Automobiles are one of the largest contributors to our individual carbon footprint and a significant component of EKU’s carbon footprint. Zimride has estimated that for every 1,000 users, the atmosphere is spared more than 80,000 pounds of carbon dioxide.
“In addition to the obvious cost savings and environmental benefits, EKU Rides can foster safety and trust and build community,” said Beverly Burrus, chair of the University’s Staff Council. “Through carpooling users can meet new people who are also members of the campus. This can be a way to make new friends and form valuable contacts.”
EKU Rides has four key features that enhance its safety:
- The signup process requires a valid EKU e-mail address.
- EKU Rides profiles and Facebook profiles allow users to see information about potential ride partners before sharing a ride.
- Users can leave feedback after sharing a ride and view feedback when selecting a ride partner.
- Users and university administrators can set privacy controls on who can see ride and personal information.
A recent look at the site showed nearly 200 posts currently active. Since its inception, EKU Rides has been used by approximately 800 people.
And there are many more potential users. More than 534 staff and faculty commute from Lexington, 282 commute from Berea, and 1,240 commute from other points north and south.
Check it out (www.rides.eku.edu) and sign up. No commitment is necessary and it may pay off in more ways than one.