Campus Commuter Challenge offers commuters chance to win prizes

Using Zimride, the challenge was created in hopes that more people will consider sustainable commuting practices.

The Campus Commuter Challenge will allow all Syracuse students, faculty and staff to earn points for every commute in which they don’t drive alone and enter for a chance to win a $50 MasterCard gift card. 

Between Feb. 1 and March 6, participants can use the commute calendar on their Zimride account to enter any trips they took carpooling, taking the bus or riding a bike. Participants earn a different number of points depending on the mode of transportation they used. For example, carpooling will earn someone five points, but biking will only earn them two.

“We’re trying to get the campus community on the Zimride rideshare program," said Melissa Cadwell, the marketing manager for Syracuse’s Sustainability Division, which is helping to sponsor the challenge. "And to try to get more people commuting together.” 

The University has partnered with Zimride since last May, Cadwell said. The Sustainability Division, the Office of Off-Campus and Commuter Services and the Office of Parking and Transit Services split the cost of the Zimride program.

Zimride allows travelers at Syracuse to connect with each other and take road trips together, eliminating vehicles and, therefore, carbon emissions.      

“[We're involved with the Campus Commuter Challenge because of] the environmental impacts vehicles have," Cadwell said. "The wear and tear on the campus, the amount of emissions that each individual car spews into the atmosphere."

She also added that less parking is available on campus, so people may wish to participate due to a lack of parking spots.

Elin Riggs, the director of the Office of Off-Campus and Commuter Services, said that she always encourages students to wait a semester before they bring a car because they may find they don’t need it.

“Not everyone is used to driving, I can tell, in weather like this," Riggs said. "So the more people that use commuter challenges like this or the more people that rideshare, it means there’s less physical cars on the road and less likely that someone’s not going to know how to deal with driving in the snow.” 

Cadwell said that Syracuse has 741 Zimride users among faculty, staff, and students, but only about 15 people participated in the fall challenge.

“Zimride and us were very happy with the numbers, but we’re always hoping to increase those numbers,” Riggs said. “We’re always hoping to be able to make those numbers higher.”

Riggs said that there was a big push to get faculty and staff involved in the challenge because their commutes are usually longer than the ones that students make.

Riggs and Cadwell both said that in future years, the University plans to create a program in which the school will partner other close-by colleges and universities, like Ithaca College, that also have rideshare programs. That way students traveling between those colleges can carpool.

Cadwell said that the program will improve as more people get involved.

“The idea is just to get people involved in it," Cadwell said. "We’re hoping that once they see how simple it is to get online and post a ride that more people will start using it because the bigger the pool of people that join, the larger the pool of other rides that are out there for people to start matching up with each other.” 

Alexa Kline is the Graduate Assistant for the Off-Campus and Commuter Services office. She used Zimride to go home and come back over Thanksgiving break. She said she doesn't like taking long car rides by herself.

“It’s a money saver, it’s a sanity saver,"  Kline said. "You have someone to talk too and honestly it’s so convenient."

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