When you’re a 20-something in college or recently out of it, you may not have a sweet ride yet. Chances are you’re either car-less or driving around a hunk of junk that barely works. If you’re lucky enough to live in a big enough city, you probably have access to public transportation. But what if you’re not this lucky? What if you need a ride from one city to the next and don’t have any reliable means of transportation?
Enter Zimride, a website all about carpooling. Their main focus is to help you carpool with your friends, classmates and co-workers, while reducing your carbon footprint and saving a little gas money. The site caters to colleges, universities, and the corporate world and hooks up with Facebook. By letting you connect your Zimride account with Facebook, you can find your friends to share rides with and get a better feel for the people that you may not know before you carpool, so you are more comfortable.
What about the safety risks of potentially driving around with a stranger? Your mother taught you never to get into a car with a stranger and now Zimride is offering this as a viable option? Zimride offers a few tips to ensure a safe road trip:
- Check out the user feedback from the person you may be sharing a ride with. If they have all negative reviews, steer clear.
- By allowing you access to their Facebook, you can see their photo, mutual interests, and other information about them.
- Zimride says to always get to know your shared rider a little bit before taking off. Talk to them first and get to know them, coordinate the ride schedule, agree on pick-up and drop-off locations, and decide on expectations for luggage, music preferences, and any other concerns. Zimride also insists that if you feel uncomfortable and need to cancel, go ahead.
- Zimride is also only available for those with verified university or corporate email accounts, so this helps keep you safe as well.
So how do you get started? First sign up for the account. Next, find your network. Say you attend the University of Michigan, for example. Check out their network and you can see all the students commuting to and from U of M. Find a commute that is of interest to you and read all of their information about the trip. If this trip interests you, you can book a seat for whatever price they are asking. If the price is too high or the times are inconvenient to you, search for another similar commute.
On the flip side, if you’re interested in making a little extra cash and having a few fun passengers on your trip, simply click “Post a ride” and let Zimride know all the information about your trip: where you are coming from and heading to, how many passengers you’d like, how much it will cost each passenger, the departure and return time, and any other details or information about the trip. You have the options to accept or decline any passenger that wants to get in your car. You get paid or pay via Paypal and get a full refund if the driver flakes on you. It all sounds like a pretty sweet deal.
“The company works with transportation departments and student governments at universities and large companies, and charges universities $9500 a year for the service (they can pay month-to-month). So far, the company has managed to sign up 20 institutions including Stanford, which has seen over 14,00 new users share 300 rides in three weeks. And aside from earning money as a carpooling company (which is impressive in itself), Zimride is also notable for being a Facebook application that generates revenue through something other than advertising,” said Jason Kincaid on Tech Crunch.
Here are some reviews from actual users via Facebook:
Lee Ann Mann: “I don’t have a car and so on some rare occasions that the bus or my bike do not accommodate this would be great.”
Eric Hopkins II: “Great app. Unfortunately not enough people use it. An app like this needs critical mass. Also, I use Zipcar and DC metro for all my transportation needs now.”
Michael Hill: “Smart and awesome app. I just wish more people used it that were willing to go my direction.”
If you’re comfortable driving with just about anyone and feel the need either environmentally or economically to carpool somewhere, test out Zimride. It is going to be the next big thing for college students.
What do you think? Would you get into a car with a stranger without the promise of candy? Tell us in the comments!
Photo by darren131