By GABRIEL FERNANDES
Finding a good parking spot is a major concern for a large number of students at Eastern. Many complain that they not only spend a long time trying to find a spot, but also have to walk a great distance to get to class. With the ever-increasing number of cars on campus and the relatively small amount of parking lots available, it seems to be almost impossible to solve the issue. However, Eastern provides a service capable of settling the situation. It is called EKU Rides.
EKU Rides is a ridesharing social network for Eastern students, faculty, and staff. It started in 2008 because of the skyrocketing of gas prices, whose cost at the time crossed the mark of $4.00 a gallon. EKU Staff Council, then, suggested the university to adopt the system, which is run by a company called Zimride. Ever since, over 1300 Eastern students and staff have used the service.
Students can either request a ride or give one using the features of the system. EKU Rides is also connected to Facebook, and students who access the site can see a list of their friends who use the service. The program is very easy to use, and the only requirement is that users create an account using an eku.edu email address. After registering, users have two basic types of posts at their disposal. The first one is the commuter post, which is tailored for those who ride from a particular location on a regular basis. The second one is the one-time post, which involves travel destinations and is ideal those who are going on vacation. It is expected that this feature should be in high demand with the proximity of the Winter break.
Dr. Catherine Clement, Professor of Psychology and responsible for EKU Rides, said reducing the number of cars on campus is one of the main benefits of using EKU Rides. Decreasing the number of vehicles at Eastern would also help drivers to find a parking spot more easily as well as reduce pollution and emission of toxins in the atmosphere. Moreover, she stated that saving money is one of the greatest advantage for the service.
“Certainly it is a cost saving for whoever wants to do it,” said Dr. Clement. “The University has to pay for the system, but it is certainly a good service for staff and students to reduce their costs in commuting.”
Dr. Clement estimates there are 180 active users in the system, but she said would like to see this number increase. She believes it is difficult to get incentive for carpooling at Eastern because parking fees are relatively cheap.
“In most campuses, parking is much more expensive, so you can give reduced price parking to people who carpool,” said Dr. Clement. “We really haven’t be able to do that since parking didn’t cost much in the first place.”
According to Dr. Clement, the increase of parking fees which happened this year might actually incentive people to use EKU Rides.
Those who are interested in using EKU Rides can go to the website http://www.zimride.com/eku.