New Carpool Matching System Lets Techies Share Commutes
As heat waves burn on, gas prices hold steady and HOV hot lanes prepare to open along I-85, campus commuters may be looking for a way to improve the ride to Tech each day. New to Georgia Tech, Zimride offers a carpool matching system for members of the campus community seeking a partner with whom to share the ride.
While public carpool matching sites exist for the metro area, Zimride's exclusivity allows students, faculty and staff to find fellow riders or drivers who they know are affiliated with campus.
“Other services are good for the region but don’t really fit the needs of the Institute or many users’ safety concerns,” said Aaron Fowler, alternative transportation coordinator for Parking and Transportation. Zimride incorporates social media to help users gets from their origin to their destination.
With Zimride, users create an online profile with their start and end points and are provided with matches, similar to the workings of an online dating service.
“The number one thing to do when you sign up is to put up a photo — it increases the likelihood of finding a ride and exemplifies to other users that you’re a real person,” said Paul Thompson with Zimride. Because Zimride is created for either recurring rides, such as a daily commute, or one-time rides, Thompson said students in areas with other universities in close proximity have also used the service to travel between campuses. In the Atlanta area, Zimride has already set up shop at Emory and Kennesaw State universities and is in progress with the University of Georgia.
A recent commuter survey by Parking and Transportation revealed that the main reason commuters drive alone to campus is that they do not have or know where to find a carpool match.
“We’ve always had a pretty strong carpooling program, but ran into a limitation when people called wanting to find someone to rideshare with — we didn’t have that capability,” said David Williamson, associate director for transportation in Parking and Transportation. “We want to provide alternatives and good choices for people, and Zimride makes it a little more convenient for those looking for an alternative.”
Zimride’s Georgia Tech website is live at zimride.gatech.edu, and enable signup using the Georgia Tech Central Authentication System (CAS) or Facebook. For those who find carpool matches and wish to change from an individual to a carpool permit for 2011-12, they can switch and receive a prorated refund from Parking at any time.