Iowa State University
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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

05-18-06

Contacts:

Debra Lauterbach, Iowa State senior, (515) 231-0842

Dan Kuester, News Service, (515) 294-0704

Iowa State online ride share program helps people get home more safely

AMES, Iowa -- Today's connected students are often plugged into Web sites, Internets, Intranets and other electronic media.

For this group, finding a ride home for the weekend by pinning a note to a bulletin board with a thumbtack must seem absolutely medieval.

Now, the chore of catching a ride with Iowa Staters who are 'going your way' is simpler, and safer than ever.

Iowa State students or staff who want a ride, or have a space in their vehicle they'd be willing to share, can connect on the recently unveiled Rideshare Board on the Iowa State University Web site.

The board acts as a connection point for people who need rides or have rides to share, said Debra Lauterbach, director of information technology for the Government of the Student Body and manager of the project.

"It's for people who don't have cars, or would like to share a ride," she said. The board is also for students and staff who want to form carpools, she added.

Lauterbach said freshmen are often the students who need rides most often, but everyone, including faculty and staff can access the board to find or offer rides, she said.

The Government of the Student Body (GSB) put the site together with the help of the Department of Public Safety because there was interest for the service.

"There had been several requests from staff and students for assistance in establishing carpools," said Douglas Houghton, program manager of the parking division of DPS.

Carpools are popular as cost-savers, and Houghton got involved because fewer cars driving onto campus means fewer parking hassles.

"We were able to bring together the two ideas -- ride share and carpools -- and work to establish the new electronic Ride Share board," said Houghton.

By going to the online Ride Share board, riders can enter a destination, and drivers can show where they're going and have extra space. They both hope to find a match.

Another reason the paper Ride Share board in Iowa State's Memorial Union was discarded was the safety concerns.

"The old-fashioned physical Ride Share board was an unmonitored posting location," said Gail Ferlazzo, associate director of the Memorial Union.

"We had concerns about non-ISU people accessing the information that was posted there," she said. "There was no guarantee that the person posting a request for a ride or offering a ride was who he or she claimed to be."

The new board has a log-on system that can be accessed only by people with ISU e-mail addresses, said Houghton.

"Although this doesn't guarantee safety, it helps limit the number of people who have access," said Houghton.

The information is also controlled so that people cannot access contact information until they log on.

As another safety measure, the site contains a number of safety tips about making contacts, sharing information and understanding the responsibility of each of the participants, said Houghton. DPS has also posted safety tips for ride sharers to help avoid problems.

The Ride Share site took around five months to design and create. Much of the programming was done by former ISU student Todd Brady, who was hired as an independent contractor to program the site. It's something Lauterbach has been proud to be a part of.

"I wanted to leave something that I helped make," said Lauterbach, a senior from Humboldt majoring in computer science and psychology.

So far, there have been about 10 hits a day on the Web site since its introduction just before spring finals.

"We're getting good feedback," she said. "We're happy that we've done something that people are excited about and are using."

The Iowa State Ride Share board can be found on the Web at http://www.gsb.iastate.edu/rideshare.

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Quote

"It's for people who don't have cars, or would like to share a ride, the board is also for students and staff who want to form carpools."

Debra Lauterbach, director of information technology for the Government of the Student Body and manager of the project