Carpool: It’s cool for school

Kristin Hugo

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Nearly 75 percent of CSUN students come to school by themselves. That means 27,000 people drive a several thousand pound vehicle with five seats to school and back – alone – on a daily basis.

According to a 2010 Commuting Report by the CSUN Institute for Sustainability, only about seven percent of CSUN students and faculty carpool.  In Southern California, we are plagued with pollution, parking issues and the price of gasoline, so why do so few of us consider ridesharing?

In the study, those surveyed said they would be more likely to carpool if they were able to find people with whom to drive, coming from the same area and going to school at similar times. Certainly, convenience is an issue.

The Institute for Sustainability is currently developing a project with a rideshare organizing service for students.

“We’re interested in making transport at CSUN and commuting to the campus more sustainable, in terms of less resource usage and more sharing of those resources,” said director of the institute Dr. Helen Cox.

One of the services being considered is Zimride. With this service, people can go online or use their smartphones to find a carpool by location and by time.

Using Zimride would be a free service for students, but to create a Zimride network CSUN would be required to pay an annual fee.

The website allows you to search by where the driver starts, the destination, the date and time they’re leaving, and the cost.

I have looked for rides before but have not been able to find any. Hopefully, the situation would be different if there was a specific CSUN network.

I have had success sharing rides to Northern California using Craigslist rideshare, which is an unorganized online wall of postings. For my purposes of non-regular, long distance riding, it has worked out every time. I’ve been charged $0 to $40 to go to Berkeley, California and I’ve always met interesting drivers and never had a bad experience.

One incentive to determine whether or not you might want to look into ridesharing is to add up how much you spend commuting with an online calculator such as commutesolutions.org. But watch out, you may discover you are paying more to drive to school than to attend.

There is hope for the future of organized carpooling at CSUN. According to the Zimride website, the service has engaged 10 to 20 percent of university populations, who save over $200,000 per year in vehicle operating costs.

If the CSUN Institute for Sustainability gets approval to subscribe to one of the ridesharing services, students will be able to organize rides, save on gas, reduce traffic and parking issues, and pollution and make friends with their fellow ridesharers.