Zipride rolls out at Macalester

By Amy Ledig

–Planning to take advantage of the long weekend for Good Friday with a trip to Chicago and need an extra person to help with gas costs? Or just want a companion to make your daily commute a little more interesting? Zipride is coming the rescue.A Macalester page of Zipride, a rideshare program based out of Massachusetts, is now up and running. The website,, allows users to post rides offered, whether one time or habitual commutes, as well as rides wanted. Users need a Macalester email address to join, so current students, faculty, staff and alumni are all able to access the site.

The partnership between Zipride and Macalester began when Sustainability Manager Suzanne Savanick Hansen met the company’s owner at an environmental forum, explained Terence Steinberg, a sophomore class representative who helped push the initiative through. The company usually charges organizations an annual fee for the service, but Macalester was able to pay a special one-time fee, making the program more sustainable.

“Even if we have budget troubles,” Steinberg said, “the program’s not going to get cut.”

The program is being hosted through an outside company rather than done in-house because hosting it on 1600 Grand would not allow alumni to have access, and making Information Technology Systems responsible for the program would add more work for an already overtaxed department, Steinberg said.

Zipride, which was started up last year, also exists as a site available to the general public, but Steinberg said that more colleges and universities are getting involved. The program serves as an updated version of the bulletin-board rideshare offerings that used to be ubiquitous on college campuses, but disappeared with the advent of the internet.

“It looks pretty solid,” he said.

This is not Steinberg’s first foray into harnessing student government’s power for environmental crusading purposes. He helped organize a waste awareness week at Café Mac last year.

“I try to bring some green into MCSG,” Steinberg said, adding that Zipride — into other environmental efforts on campus, such as the President’s Commitment to Climate Change. “It’s part of a larger step outside of student government as well.”

Zipride will help ease parking pressure on campus and lower carbon emissions by community members, Steinberg said.

Promotional efforts will kick off in earnest next week. Steinberg said that he and some other MCSG members will be tabling in the lower level of the Campus Center on Tuesday and Thursday to help people register for the program, and they will also be reaching out to alumni.

“It may be particularly useful in places like urban areas [including the Twin Cities] where there are lots of Mac alums and not all of them have cars,” he said.