March 28, 2012
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
University joins carpooling program
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Just about everyone has made important connections online. Slippery Rock University students, faculty and staff will soon have a way to find carpoolers online to coordinate ridesharing to and from campus. Bob Villella, CommuteInfo.Org rideshare coordinator, said the program operates somewhat like a dating service. Participants register and indicate where they live and share daily travel schedules. Commuteinfo.org brokers a connection with other commuters.
SRU has joined CommuteInfo.Org. The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission web-based program matches commuters, which reduces the carbon footprint by lessoning reliance on vehicles. The free initiative aims to increase the number of people traveling to school by carpooling, ride transit, vanpooling, walking or bikepooling.
Commission officials will be on campus next week to meet with Christopher Cole, director of the University Union, to discuss implementation and awareness.
Jordan Bailley, a political science major from White Oak and president of the Student Government Association, said CommuteInfo.Org is a good idea because it emphasizes a variety of alternative transportation modes.
“Having been in student government and present for the forums searching for a new president, I can say that parking is a constant topic of discussion on campus,” he said. “The discussion needs to broaden and focus more on transportation as a whole, which includes walking, biking, public transportation and carpooling.”
Half of SRU’s students live off-campus. The parking office issued 4,329 commuter parking permits for the current year, University Police said. SRU’s enrollment is 8,712.
“We know that there are lots of students who drive to campus. The difficulty with academic schedules is finding someone with a similar schedule, someone to ride with you for morning classes as opposed to an afternoon class, for example,” Cole said. “This is a way to encourage people to use shared transportation or bike transportation instead of each person driving his or her own vehicle and discharging those fumes into the atmosphere.”
“Reaching for 2025 and Beyond,” the University’s strategic plan identifies sustainability and resource conservation as priorities. SRU is committed to exploring alternative energy, environmental stewardship and sustainable practice and design. SRU offers a “Happy Bus” ride sharing program on campus, and students have promoted reliance on bicycles for several years.
Cole said the new program supports the goal of educating graduates who will incorporate sustainable practice into their daily lives. The program will be promoted at the commuter lounge in the Robert M. Smith Student Center, on Web pages, in University newsletters and through SGA.
“Ridesharing and decreasing individual vehicle rides to campus are part of our efforts to educate students for a society that that is looking at the sustainability of natural resources,” Cole said.
Cole said the University could create “preferred parking” in the future for people who carpool, such as designating certain lots for carpoolers.
“The basic concept is we match people with one another,” Villella said. “You indicate common commuting times. For instances, you may commute at 7 a.m. and you want to leave at 3:30 p.m. The idea is the person should say, ‘I am flexible for a half hour after 3:30 p.m.’”
There is no cost to register on the Web site, nor will SRU pay a service fee, he said.
The program, which is in place at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, is for commuters living and working in the 10-county southwestern Pennsylvania region. Villella said the key component of getting it rolling is getting students to register.
“The more people who show an interest, the more successful it is,” he said. “There has to be a desire.”