November 5, 2013
By Annie Dittberner '17
You could say the next evolution of social networking combines the Internet and car rides. Sound far-fetched? You can find it right here in our campus parking lots — it's called Zimride — an online carpooling service.
The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University are among three Minnesota schools to offer this new ride sharing service. It is available for students, faculty and staff. Nationally, this program is active on 125 college campuses.
To use Zimride, you need to have a CSB/SJU email account. You can register either as a passenger or a driver.
Zimride creates an algorithm that deciphers who will be the closest and most convenient match for users.
In addition, users have the ability to post available seats in their car as well as personal details like whether or not they allow smoking and musical preferences. Passengers can also make a post that says the amount of money they're willing to pay.
Andy Dirksen, assistant director of the international and intercultural student services department, is one of the key players who is helping launch Zimride on the CSB and SJU campuses.
"It's one of those things where we saw a need for it, in particular, for students here at the colleges," Dirksen said.
Different models of ridesharing programs have been tried throughout the years, but when the Zimride program came across CSB Dean of Students Jody Terhaar's desk, she considered it an option for students as well as faculty and staff at CSB and SJU.
"We looked at how this program has had success at other institutions our size," Dirksen said. "We wanted something that's been proven."
Zimride presented its data, information and research to Dirksen and his team. After talking with different universities who use Zimride, they saw an increase in participation at similar schools within two to three years of unveiling the service.
After collaborating ideas and finalizing their thoughts, Dirksen's team decided to launch the program on the CSB and SJU campuses with the start of the 2013-2014 academic year.
Josh Rebholz, a junior at SJU, is involved in the Zimride program.
"I decided to get involved in the program because I think it provides a great service that is in high demand for students," he said.
Rebholz is the student assistant in the SJU President's Office as well as the SJU Senate Liaison for Zimride.
"Zimride is an easy, efficient solution for people looking for a ride or for someone looking to split the cost with passengers," Rebholz said. "Using Zimride allows students to get answers about rides much faster than posting on their cohort's Facebook page and having to wait for a response."
CSB junior Chloe Smith says the program is precise.
Smith recently used Zimride to go to and from the Twin Cities. Both times she has been the driver, riding with other CSB and SJU students.
She charged her passengers $5-$10 a seat based on the costs that Zimride sets.
While Zimride allows users to cut their traveling costs, the program also builds a stronger sense of community and helps limit the harmful environmental effects of driving by keeping cars off the road.
Dirksen sees growth in Zimride throughout the next three years at CSB and SJU.
Over the next few years, Dirksen says, "I'm hoping that we have a good quarter of our population enrolled as users, staff and students combined. The biggest thing is just getting the word out and people remembering to think about using Zimride to get connected."