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UCF Zimride Remains a Work in Progress

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The arrival of fall semester at the University of Central Florida is an exciting time for students. A new semester brings new classes and challenges. One of the biggest challenges for UCF students is finding a way to get to those classes on time. UCF’s student body of more than 53,000 is the third largest in the nation and continues to grow. Undoubtedly, traffic congestion is a major issue. The Zimride program was introduced by university officials to reduce student frustration and greenhouse gas emissions when driving to campus. While the program started in June, school officials have gone on record saying the fall semester will be Zimride’s first real test

Zimride is a new online program advertised as a simple way to find friends, classmates, and co-workers going the same way you are. Creators Logan Green and John Zimmer started the program at UC Santa Barbara in California which now hosts more than 350,000 users across the country. School and work networks are used on Facebook to help people coordinate their schedules and share rides. On June 29th UCF became the first school in Florida to offer the service to its faculty and students. UCF Student Government and Parking Services have split the cost of service, which comes out to just over $10,000 per year.

The UCF shuttle system gets students to campus daily.

With fall semester in session, is Zimride meeting expectations and alleviating traffic concerns on Central Florida’s campus?

Joseph DeFrancisco, a Campus Safety and Transportation Specialist doesn’t believe so. According to DeFrancisco the university was initially anticipating larger numbers to join up over the summer. A recent check of Student Government records revealed that as of today UCF Zimride has about 1,058 users. This includes 923 new users over the past 90 days. The UCF Zimride network carries about 421 rides in total. Student government says the growth is good but the program remains in an experimental stage.

A recent interview with Student Government Vice President Taylor Lochrane shed some light on the direction of Zimride. “The goal is improving perception which takes time.” Lochrane noted the key to building a reputation is the spread of information. The general feeling is that Zimride is moving in the right direction but slowly. He also mentioned apprehension on the part of students as a reason Zimride hasn’t taken off yet. “Students who don’t feel comfortable riding with new people need to take advantage of the opportunity of meeting before riding.” Zimride states its service is proven to engage ten to twenty percent of university populations. In Lochrane’s opinion a more realistic goal at UCF would be 2,000 users by the end of year one.

Marketing and promotions are expected to increase in the coming months as UCF plans to pull out all the stops. “We want to create a social party atmosphere” says Joseph DeFrancisco. There will be promotional events at the start of each semester. A spring semester launch party is in the early stages of planning and large volumes of e-mails will continually be sent to UCF students. The university wants to create more situational advertising. Zimride was mentioned as a great way to get to UCF football games and other sporting events. Vice President Lochrane went on to say that student government wishes to get involved with green organizations on campus to promote Zimride as an alternative to driving solo.

Construction at UCF creates more traffic problems.

While it appears Zimride is still far from being students first choice in transportation, there is no doubt the University of Central Florida wants it to succeed. The fall semester is here and on-campus traffic remains a problem. Construction on a new parking garage J has been slow. Students rely on the UCF shuttle service as a reliable way to get to campus. Zimride remains small for now but the future may be bright for UCF’s newest transportation option.

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Written by ArthurVolpe

September 24, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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