Listen to the UVA Today Radio Show report on this story by Matt Kelly:
September 24, 2010 — Area carpoolers will now be able to connect online, and people who find alternative means of transportation can be rewarded for their efforts.
The University of Virginia has contracted with NuRide, a Connecticut-based Internet company, to provide an online service that rewards people for not using their vehicles.
NuRide members accumulate points that they can redeem for merchandise discounts with national and local vendors when they carpool, take the bus, ride a bicycle, walk or telecommute. Members can use the site to find carpooling partners, as well as people with whom to share one-time trips. The site will also allow them to calculate the pounds of emissions prevented and money saved by their transportation choices.
NuRide is available to U.Va. employees, students and residents of the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle, Greene, Nelson, Orange, Madison, Fluvanna and Louisa counties. Residents of other counties can also join if at least one leg of their journey is within the membership area.
"This is another opportunity for University employees and area residents to receive a benefit for not using their vehicle," said Rebecca White, director of the University's Department of Parking and Transportation. "They not only save money by not driving, they can also earn discounts from local and national merchants."
U.Va. is the first university sponsoring the NuRide program, which usually works with municipalities. NuRide has about 50,000 members in 10 markets and has contracts with Washington, D.C., and Richmond, among others. It recently announced an agreement with the state of Massachusetts.
"NuRide has been a wonderful addition to our programs and services," said Von Tisdale, executive director of RideFinders, a division of GRTC Transit System in Richmond. "NuRide provides an avenue to attract and engage major employers in the region while simultaneously providing a venue to reward those commuters already participating in alternate commute options. Since we've implemented the program, more than 150 area employers have joined NuRide. From July 2009 through August 2010, NuRide members have logged over 13,729 rideshare trips, reducing 1,718,522 miles traveled."
In Hampton Roads, NuRide has contracted for five years with Traffix, a cooperative public service designed to promote transportation alternatives in the Hampton Roads region.
"We are very pleased with the program," Traffix director Ron Hodges said. "NuRide has done an excellent job with follow-through and followup as we have requested and we are currently renewing their contract."
White said NuRide has a contract with one other large employer. "But this advances the University toward its goal of reducing vehicle emissions, congestion and parking demand," she said.
The program will be officially unveiled Sept. 29, though many University employees have already been entered into the system. There will be a sign-up table in the Newcomb Hall Plaza on Sept. 29 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for students and University employees. She said that, while employees will probably use the system more for carpooling, students can use it for longer-range single trips.
White said between 1,000 and 1,500 members would make it likely people would find someone to share a ride. Members can choose rewards from more than 50 companies, including Blue Wheel Bicycles, Burrito Theory, Shenandoah Joe Coffee and Quiznos.
For information, visit www.nuride.com.