UC Berkeley Launches Online-Based Carshare Network

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In an effort to reduce the number of automobiles on campus and lower transportation costs for commuters, the UC Berkeley Parking and Transportation Department launched a campus network of Zimride, an online-based ride sharing system, on Feb. 26.

Feedback from seven other UC campuses using Zimride prompted UC Berkeley to implement the carshare system as a method to reduce demand for parking spaces on campus, said Seamus Wilmot, acting director for the department.

"This was just another part of alternative transportation," he said. "It will help continue to drive down our drive-alone rate ... (and) reduce the number of cars and the costs."

While the service is free for users, the department pays for the system with parking permit funds, according to Wilmot.

To ensure user safety, UC Berkeley students, faculty and staff register for Zimride through the CalNet Authentication System, Wilmot said. So far, 357 potential users have signed up for the service.

Once signed into Zimride, users post their driving route or their requested ride. When there is a match between driver and rider, the system notifies the commuters.

Unlike Zipcar users, Zimride users drive their own vehicles. However, the campus service allows users who reserve Zipcars to share rental costs for the cars instead of using their vehicles.

Parking on campus also becomes less expensive for users: parking permits are $29 per person in a carpool each month while lone drivers pay $90, according to Wilmot.

Zimride, a nationwide company founded by two college students in 2007, offers a ride sharing service for university communities that is free and safe, according to John Zimmer, the company's co-founder and chief operating officer.

Zimmer said the idea for the service arose from personal grievances with transportation in college.

"We were frustrated by the fact that we would drive somewhere and realize that other students or coworkers had taken the same trip," he said.

More than 45 universities now have their own network of the carshare system, according to Zimmer.

"In the last year and a half it's really taken off," he said. "We're getting positive feedback."

Susan Shaheen, co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the UC Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies, said the Zimride system will reduce the campus's carbon footprint.

"It's taking technology and the idea of social networking ... to provide people with more mobility options," Shaheen said.

Lauren Weaver, a Teaching American History Grant coordinator for the UC Berkeley History-Social Science Project, said she created her Zimride profile after trying a variety of transportation methods throughout her three years working on campus.

Weaver, who drives to campus daily, said Zimride will help commuters reduce their carbon footprint by sharing the costs.

Though she has yet to use the service, Weaver said she hopes to form a carpool to campus.

"I find it to be difficult to commute efficiently," she said. "I'm hopeful that this will help me lower my costs."


Contact Stephanie Baer at [email protected]

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