Carpools benefit students

Only about 100 miles apart, USF and the University of Central Florida (UCF) are close geographic neighbors and their students, teachers, staff and alumni are spread across the state.

There’s no doubt that some Orlando-area high school students decided to attend USF to get away from home without being too far, just like many Tampa-area high school graduates chose UCF.

The trek between the two metropolises may get a little easier as both schools have recently begun a cooperative effort to encourage carpooling among students.

Both USF and UCF use Zimride, a social-networking website that helps users to find someone to carpool with in their community.

Instead of only being able to find and post ride information on Zimride’s UCF or USF networks, students will now have the ability to work within both networks in what the schools hope will foster ridesharing between USF and UCF students.

Not just anyone can join as a member of the Zimride community. For example, all USF students must have a valid USF NetID to enroll.

Zimride allows users to find friends and create a profile to display personal preferences with regard to riding in the car. For example, a non-smoker won’t face a nasty surprise when the person they’re carpooling with begins to light a cigarette because it’s possible to scope the site for the best match. The site even lists users’ taste in music, among other things.

The site already has more than 350,000 users in North America and is used by universities and companies across the U.S., including West Virginia University, UCLA and Walmart.

In an age when many popular social-networking sites are centers of narcissism and gossip, the benefits of Zimride are refreshingly practical and useful.

Traffic woes between Tampa and Orlando have been illustrated by the debate over the much-needed traffic relieving alternatives, such as the possible implementation of light-rail and high-speed rail transportation systems.

However, while the political and economic merits of large-scale projects like rails

bitterly wage on, residents of both cities must look toward other alternative solutions in the meantime.

Leaders at USF and UCF should be applauded for taking proactive steps in the best interest of their students by encouraging environmentally friendly, cost-effective solutions like the Zimride program.

USF students who are interested in using the service should visit the Zimride website at

It’s not often that such creative solutions are offered to help students with their transportation woes. Students must consider the benefits of the program for the sake of their pocketbooks, environment and region.