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Published: 2013/06/21
by Kevin Borgia

A Ticket to RideShare

This piece was slated for the Bonnaroo Beacon and we run it here in the hope that many of you will carpool to upcoming evens.

Somewhere on a highway in South Carolina, 18-year-old Brooke Logan and three passengers laughed gleefully about the day’s roadtrip adventures. The four college students were en route from Miami to Manchester, new friends that met through Bonnaroo’s rideshare program, and they were off on the Great American Roadtrip.

Logan and her companions are among hundreds of people that are sharing rides to Bonnaroo this year, courtesy of a partnership with Zimride, the nation’s largest ridesharing platform. Though she had just met her passengers, the four demostrated an exuberant bond by the time the Beacon caught up with them via phone on the Monday before the festival.

The group met a few weeks in advance, but quickly learned that sharing a ride would be more than just a way to save money. “We got along so well we decided to make a week-long road trip out it,” Logan said, noting that the quartet had plans to stop at a parents’ vacation house in North Carolina, do some hiking, and stay a night in Asheville before completing the trip to Bonnaroo.

All four girls are close in age, are currently attending various colleges, and all are Bonnaroo first-timers, Logan said, adding that it just felt natural that they would be friends. “We have real similar tastes. All of our lineups are pretty much the same.”

The four are also first-timers users of Zimride, and their experience had been positive so far. Aside from meeting great new friends, the site helps make traveling easier, cheaper and more efficient.

“Zimride is an easy way to connect with other people going the same place at the same time, and Bonnaroo is a perfect example of that,” said Zimride Senior Account Manager Curtis Rogers. “You have a critical mass of people going to one location, in this case a rural location where people don’t need a car while they’re there. They just need it to get to and from. We can help with that.”

“Zimride is a social platform that lets you get to know the other person before you choose to ride with them. With Bonnaroo’s Zimride page, you have to sign up with Facebook, and that way you can see information about the other person, get to know them a little more, see if you have mutual friends in a more social environment, all before you decide if you want to share the ride.”

The site began in 2007 with two recent college graduates who realized that people were often traveling from the same places to the same places, but had no way to connect. Sites like Craigslist made such ridesharing possible, but often left riders anxious and provided riders little information about their fellow passengers or drivers, Rogers explained.

Zimride provides this information by connecting users through a social platform with information about each user. Users are encouraged to include other information that can help users determine if another person is a good fit, such as their age, if they are a smoker, musical preferences and other pertinent info.

“Most people are a little uneasy at first; there’s a fear of the unknown. But as soon as they’ve done it a few times, they realize the other people are just like them,” Rogers said.

This is especially true at a music festival, he added. “People are going to the same festival, they like the same music, they just immediately have a connection.”

Back in Logan’s car, this sentiment resonates. “Im not gonna lie, I was hesitant at first, because its riding with strangers…but I saw them on the site, saw their profiles, and they looked pretty legit, and we`re all good friends now, six hours later,” laughed Logan’s passenger Nicki King, 18, of Miami, who is mostly looking forward to seeing Alt-J, Animal Collective, and the Silent Disco.

The site’s success is the result of targeting people would benefit from ridesharing, such as festival-goers, college students or people living in densely populated areas.

“A site like ours is all about critical mass,” Curtis says, adding that it tends to work best when more people are signed up. Zimride works all across the country, but you’ll find the most rides in places like California and the east coast.

“Because of our partnerships with universities, states like Virginia and the Carolinas, as well as Minnesota and Wisconsin are great examples of places with high Zimride usage.”

Curtis says universities make perfect sense for Zimride, where you have massive numbers of people going from around town to campus, and the company has targeted its outreach to those areas.

Though broad metrics are hard to measure, such as the number of miles or trips eliminated by the site, Curtis says the number of postings on the Zimride Bonnaroo site (Nearly 1400 at press time), shows just how successful it can be for a music festival like this.

In past years, the company partnered with Coachella and Sasquatch to organize a festival-specific site. “Along with Bonnaroo, those three are a perfect fit, they’re all top-tier, giant festivals and they’re all in rural locations. It’s ideal for ridesharing.”

But it can be about more than just saving money or taking cars off the road, Curtis says, referencing two people who met on a carpool at UCLA and are married now.

“That’s one really great story. We see a lot of friends that have carried on from rideshares. Who knows what might come out of Bonnaroo!”

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