October 23, 2020
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Rideshare App aims to create greener campus

By Chelsea LoCascio
News Editor

If you need a ride, do not have money for an Uber or just want to help the environment, then TCNJ Rideshare App is here to help.

The President’s Climate Commitment Committee (PC3) pushed for the creation and implementation of this new app, now available through both the Apple and Google Play stores, according to political science Department Chair and Associate Professor Brian Potter. This app, exclusive to the College, is a way for students, faculty and staff to cut down on their carbon emissions by carpooling. However, the app will not be effective until more people start using it.

“There’s some minimum threshold level of (a couple hundred) people that we need to start using it and looking for rides,” Potter said. “So far, we’re not at that (threshold).”

According to TCNJ Rideshare’s website, there are several incentives to use the app, such as saving money on gas and lowering emissions of greenhouse gasses caused solely by transportation to and from the College by 20 percent.

According to Potter, the biggest motivator for drivers is the hangtag that allows only them to park in a designated spot for a month — a privilege only available for frequent TCNJ Rideshare app drivers. These premium spots are located in the front of lots 5 and 7 for students, and lots 1 and 4 for faculty and staff.

Although the app is free to use and does not require financial compensation, payment arrangements are up to the driver and rider if they would like to make a more even exchange, according to Potter.

“If I had a ride with somebody five days a week and I was driving the person the whole time I might say, ‘You want to chip in for gas or something?’” Potter said. “But that’s informal. That’s not part of the app or anything.”

Prior to this app was a program called TCNJ iCarpool, which was difficult for students to use, Potter said.

“We had a carpooling program that didn’t really work. We looked at the software we were using for the carpooling program and it was clumsy and hard to use,” Potter said. “So we went to students and asked, ‘What would get you using (the program) more?’ and they said, ‘A phone app, and keep it simple.’ So we did.”

Though this app has been around since the start of this semester, its creation started in Spring 2015, according to senior computer science and interactive multimedia double major Ben Meyer. Both Meyer and Michael McNally, a 2015 computer science alumnus, helped make the app under the supervision of computer science Associate Professor Deborah Knox as part of mentored research for computer science.

“Potter contacted me in January 2015 because my research lab has developed and produced a number of TCNJ mobile applications… (and he) inquired if my research team would be able to develop a mobile app to facilitate campus carpooling,” Knox said.

The research team worked on it through the spring, summer and into the fall, making sure to perfect the app based on user testing feedback, according to Meyers.

“We are fairly pleased with how the finished product came together,” Meyer said. “Ideas and plans for the app changed throughout the process, so what we started with is not what we ended up with.”

Potter is happy with the finished product as it is simple to set up, records reduced carbon emissions and brings the College one-step closer to becoming a greener campus.

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