RideShare rides into commuting

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RideShare rides into commuting

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UI has a new program available for faculty, staff, and students called UI RideShare, whose purpose is to help users find commuting partners who work or study at the University of Iowa.

By Elianna Novitch

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A secure, sustainable, and affordable way to commute has made its way to campus.

A new program called UI RideShare is being used by faculty, staff, and students to help them find commuting partners who work or study at the University of Iowa.

“[UI RideShare] is a technology that helps connect people going to and from the same places,” commuter programs manager Michelle Ribble said. “It uses a mapping technology to look at the origin and destination of someone’s commute along with their schedule to help them match with other commuters.”

RideShare officially launched on Oct. 20 as part of a new statewide program created by the Iowa Department of Transportation. UI Parking & Transportation is in charge of running the local subsite.

“The really nice thing about this new ridesharing software is that it will allow users to do single-trip matching as well,” Ribble said. “Traditionally with ride matching, it is a daily commute. Now you can post a one-time trip you want to take and connect with people that way.”

Registering for the program is easy: All that is required is a HawkID and password.

Once users are registered for UI RideShare, they can create a profile, log commute routes or trips, and begin being matched for carpooling, biking, walking, and shared transit routes.

RideShare users can also track money saved, miles traveled, calories burned, and emissions reduced from the commutes they log.

“We realize that some students come to campus without a vehicle, whether it is because of living in a residence hall or not having the financial means for it, and so we are trying to provide them with an option that will allow them to get from point A to point B as easily as possible,” said April Wells, a communications specialist for UI Parking & Transportation.

Along with keeping easy access for users in mind, UI RideShare is also considered a more secure option for finding rides because it is through the UI.

“Many students used to just post on social-media platforms like Facebook to find rides. And while that wasn’t necessarily dangerous, it wasn’t secure and the best option for students,” UI student Akash Bhalerao said. “There was a need for a ridesharing program like this that was going to be secure and affordable for students.”

UI RideShare is available for use by both faculty and students. The program allows students to match with other students and employees to match with other employees.

Users can also make their profiles private if they only want to use the program as a way to map routes or track their trips.

“I think the best thing [about RideShare] is that it gives people more options for their commutes,” Ribble said. “It opens up more possibilities for people with the walking, transit, and biking features along with carpooling.”

There are hopes that UI RideShare will have bigger effects on the community than just helping people find commute partners.

RideShare has the possibility of cutting emission levels from the number of cars driven due to the carpooling option and could affect the parking issues of Iowa City as the amount of cars brought to campus decreases.

“I think this program is going to be great for UI. It provides a centralized network for people to find rides and as a student without a car, it gives me options for trips to places like Cedar Rapids or Chicago,” said UI student Bruno Ponce. “Students should take advantage of this resource because it is here, it’s free, and centralized through the university.”

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