A new car pooling program has “started its engine” at Memorial University today. Known as RideShare, this online tool helps students, faculty and staff at the
St. John’s campus connect with others who want to share rides. The web-based initiative, www.mun.ca/rideshare
, is sponsored by Project Green and Memorial University.
In this initial release, the RideShare website will offer people a way to match for one-time rides (for example, a student is looking for a ride to Gander on Friday). In August, RideShare launches the second phase of the project by adding the option of organizing carpools for daily commutes to and from the university.
According to the organizers, the major goals of the Rideshare initiative are to raise awareness on campus in the Memorial University community of the need to conserve non-renewable resources, reduce green house gases and encourage people to take measures individually to contribute to making the campus more environmentally friendly.
Diana Pugliese, Project Green’s co-ordinator of the initiative, explained the genesis of the program. “Project Green wanted the Memorial community to meet the federal government’s One Tonne Challenge and we figured the best way to do it was by reducing the number of cars traveling to the university,” she said. “If people leave their car home just two days a week, their greenhouse gas output decreases by a half-tonne annually. That is a pretty big number. Also, driving is expensive and this is a great way to reduce the overall cost of travel.”
Kent Decker, Memorial’s vice-president (administration and Finance), said he was immediately intrigued when Project Green approached him with the idea. “I could see many benefits to such a program, even beyond the environmental ones,” Mr. Decker said. “The demand for parking spaces on campus is very high but of course we have a limited supply – this program seems to offer a way to increase the number of people using individual parking spaces, thereby helping to accommodate more people’s needs.”
He noted that similar programs have been started at the University of Toronto (Mississauga and Scarborough campuses), Mount Allison University and Universite Laval with great success.
The RideShare program is the first of its kind in St. John’s. Ms. Pugliese said Project Green hopes it will serve as a pilot project for other possible car pool initiatives in the city.