Need a lift? VCU rolls out web-based ridesharing

Nan Turner
Staff Writer
VCU is partnering with Zimride, an online ridesharing program in an effort to decrease problems with parking, car traffic around campus and to promote carpooling on weekend trips.
Zimride, a private network, uses social networking sites such as Facebook to match individuals up with others who have similar travel patterns, locations and interests in an attempt to generate carpooling. The service officially launched on Oct. 5.
In order to use the service, students must simply register for a Zimride account at zimride.vcu.edu, log in with their VCU eID and password, add a ride and browse matches with similar commutes or one-time rides. If students have trouble finding a match right away, Zimride will email you when a new user posts a potential match. There is no cost for membership, and matches will remain within the VCU network. Students will have a chance to evaluate each other’s profiles before making a decision on whether or not to share a ride.
VCU Parking and Transportation Manager Paul Walker, said he had heard complaints from students having trouble getting around campus. Zimride should be highly beneficial to students facing problems with accessible public transit.
“A student recently commented that he uses the transit pass program to travel to and from campus; however, the buses do not run to his neighborhood in the evening,” Walker said. “He was not able to join student organizations that require him to stay on campus in the evening. He feels he can now find a ride home on nights that groups meet or for other university events.”
He said he thinks the new format will encourage freshmen in particular to branch out when trying to get from destination to destination.
“By having a program that is only used by the VCU community, freshmen will be more likely to investigate the program, and ultimately discover how fun and simple it is to find one-time rides or long-term commutes,” Walker said.
Rebecca Jones, marketing and public relations manager for the Department of Business Services at VCU, said ridesharing will aide those without a car and could also pinch some pennies.
“Lots of students don’t have cars on campus, so Zimride will help students who want to go to other parts of town to shop,” Jones said. “I think it will also help link students together who want to take a weekend trip back home or to another school. It will be better for the environment to get more cars off of the road, and it will be better for the students’ pockets.”
Zimride is not the first social networking site enabling a way for students to link up for carpooling. VCU Rideshare, a student-run Facebook group has been active for over three years.
VCU junior Jordan Romeo is currently the administrator of the group. She said that while she does not know much about the service yet, she is excited to see the change it could make for the university.
“I don’t think VCU students look to share rides enough, but I hope it increases soon, and I believe having another service to help pair people up will be very beneficial to the VCU community,” Romeo said. “I feel as though if Zimride is as easily accessible at Facebook, usage of VCU Rideshare may decrease, but as long as people are getting places safely while decreasing their carbon footprint, it doesn’t make a difference.”
Walker said VCU supports all rideshare efforts and welcomes other Facebook groups and programs such as VCU Rideshare and NuRide, a Richmond ridesharing program that is used within the community. NuRide is for all businesses in the Richmond region, but it allows VCU to link up with other area commuters.
Students interested in signing up for ridesharing through Zimride can visit www.zimride.vcu.edu.

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