New ridesharing program up and running

TRU aims to make carpooling popular with RideShark RideMatching System

Brandon Dallamore - Facilities Building System Technologist (Submitted/ Brandon Dallamore)

Brandon Dallamore – Facilities Building System Technologist (Submitted/ Brandon Dallamore)

Carpooling to and from TRU may have become just a little bit easier with TRU’s Rideshare program.

Developed by software company RideShark, the program will allow students, staff and faculty to find carpooling partners. Using either your home or work address, the program automatically matches you to nearby commuters with similar schedules.

Unlike TRU’s previous carpooling system that was run by the students’ union, TRU Rideshare came about as a partnered initiative between TRU Facilities and TRU Environment and Sustainability.

“We had a ridesharing initiative in place before, but nobody was really using it,” said Brandon Dallamore, Facilities’ Building System Technologist. “This time, instead of trying to fix something old, we decided to scrap the original, build something completely new and take it under our own reins. We contracted an outside consultant, RideShark, to get everything set up, though it is all branded under the university.”

Demand for the new system came shortly after this year’s TRUSU budget consultation that cited parking as the third-largest concern among students.

“Students weren’t happy. There was an outcry for an increase in parking. We had no choice, we had to improve parking capabilities,” Dallamore said.

Looking to remedy problems that the previous carpooling program had, TRU’s new ridesharing program will no longer be completely forum based. Dallamore has said that, with RideShark’s help, the new website is meant to feel much more “modern” as well.

Users will be able to log on to the site using their myTRU email account. From there they can set up a trip or join another member on their trip, provided they have room in their vehicle.

Scheduling is easy, users simply enter the date and where they are headed. The RideMatching system does the rest, linking users in need of rides to nearby members who are willing to carpool.

“You can even plan trips quite far ahead in the future,” said Dallamore. “I’m going to Vancouver Island in mid-December, so someone could easily take a look at my trip and decide if they would like to join in before then. With winter coming up, it’ll be great for organizing trips up to Sun Peaks too. We’re hoping to focus on that, because it is just such a big opportunity right away.”
Money will be handled by users themselves, often in person, where prices can be bartered. However, to avoid price abuses, the program offers a trip cost calculator. It also suggests a value for reimbursement for each trip depending on how many people you are willing to take.

RideShark’s president, Sharon Lewinson, affirms it’s not solely about carpooling either. “RideShark is dedicated to the provision of software to encourage and support people in their choice to use sustainable travel modes whether it’s carpooling, transit, walking or cycling,” Lewinson said.

Looking past the carpooling aspect of the rideshare program, students and faculty will be able to use the program to set up bike trips, hikes, and other get-togethers. It can even be used to meet new people on campus.

However, some kinks in the system still need to be worked out, such as giving users the option for an alternative email address.

“Not many people remember their TRU email address or password to it, so that is a big hole. We’ll be able to provide an option to use an alternative email address with our next update in January,” Dallamore said.

Despite this, the program is ready to go, Dallamore says. After a successful trial run, TRU has decided to launch the program sooner rather than later.

“If we slowly launch it, then there is the possibility that the same thing will happen with what happened to the last carpooling system, and it’ll flop,” Dallamore said.

From Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, volunteers from around campus, as well as Facilities and Sustainability, will be walking around campus in Sustainability’s bright-green t-shirts handing out free coffee and signing students and staff up for the rideshare program. An iPad Mini will be among the prizes to be won for signing up, and will be drawn once 350 people have signed on to the rideshare.