Campus ride-sharing goes online and interactive

Move over ride board. People looking for rides to and from campus — and those with extra space in their backseat to fill — now have a new online way to connect: Zimride.

Zimride logo

The free web-based ride-sharing service went live at Berkeley on Friday, and by Tuesday nine people were looking for passengers or drivers for commutes or trips from as far away as Daly City and Vallejo.

“We’re always looking for alternative transportation ideas — ways to reduce the number of single-occupancy drivers coming to campus,” says Seamus Wilmot, who as acting director of parking and transportation brought Zimride to Berkeley. “We saw this as another part of this plan.”

Berkeley joins Stanford, Cornell, USF and seven of its UC siblings among the dozens of campuses nationwide that have set up Zimride networks to fill up cars — and cut the amount of fuel used. Corporations from Clif Bar to Walmart have done the same.

“The idea is to reduce the carbon footprint of coming to campus,” Wilmot says. Zimride’s software actually calculates each member’s cumulative contribution to the cause, though Wilmot says its formula for those calculations is still being refined.

Berkeley’s Zimride is set up as a closed system. Users need a Cal ID to sign on. Then they can post mini-profiles of themselves, including a photo, and also connect to Facebook, so riders and drivers can check each other out a little bit.

Riders can also post reviews of drivers, and vice versa. “You could get a ride from me, and then you could put in ‘Seamus smells bad. Don’t get a ride from him.’ Or, ‘He drives like a maniac,’ ” Wilmot says.

Drivers looking for passengers can enter their route, timing, and even a suggested fee. Passengers seeking rides can do the same. Zimride program will match them up automatically, using a logarithm that delivers the 10 best prospects at any given time.

Beyond commuters, students heading home to Los Angeles for spring break can use Zimride to find a cheap ride. Or those heading to Tahoe for a ski weekend can fill extra seats and defray the cost.

Zimcar also links to the seven Zipcars on campus, making ride-sharing an option for those who share cars too. Other options for people who want more sustainable ways of getting to and from Berkeley include the Bear Pass (a reduced-price AC Transit bus pass), pre-tax BART tickets and, for students, the Class Pass (free AC Transit or shuttle rides).

To find a ride, post a ride or get more information, go to the Zimride website.