Wesleyan Rideboard Links Campus Commuters

Posted 08/06/08
Every day, Linda Hurteau commutes 100 miles to and from Wesleyan, where she works an assistant in Olin Library. With skyrocketing gas prices and the need for oil changes every five weeks, the Mystic, Conn. resident knew she needed to find a transportation alternative.

“With gas costing about $4.30 a gallon, it costs me roughly $260 a month or $3,100 a year to drive to work,” Hurteau says. “$3,100 could get me a week relaxing in the Caribbean each year instead of dodging bad drivers, accidents, and rocks along (Interstate) 95. I’ve already had to replace all four tires on my 2005 vehicle and I’ve gotten at least five cracks in my windshield in three years.”

Hurteau sought the new Wesleyan Rideboard, a website devoted to offering carpooling and public transportation suggestions for the Wesleyan community. Users can post rides offered or needed to or from Wesleyan.

The website has specific links to Connecticut, Maryland and the Washington DC area, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and a link to “other destinations” for those needing or offering rides outside of the Northeast. In addition, Wesleyan Rideboard features a link to local transportation options such as Middletown Transit, the Wesleyan New Haven Shuttle; Connecticut Transit U-Line and Chinatown busses; Amtrak, Metro-North, Shore Line East railroads; and taxi and limo information.

Hurteau posted an ad, and nearby Waterford, Conn. resident Karen Murphy, analyst programmer, replied. The Wesleyan colleagues are planning to begin a commuting partnership in fall.

“Bottom line is we all have choices and I’d rather drive two hours a day to live on the shore in Southeastern Connecticut,” Hurteau says. “I am fortunate to be able to afford the commute, but if I can share the cost and save some carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere I will.”

Erika Taylor, assistant professor of chemistry, also is seeking a commuting partner on the Rideboard website. She drives to Wesleyan from Fairfield, Conn. – a 45-mile one-way campus commute.

“I signed up to carpool since I feel that any opportunity to use less fuel should be utilized and obviously carpooling helps accomplish that goal for people that can’t or don’t live in Middletown,” Taylor explains. “No one yet has taken me up on the offer, but I have talked to a few people about possible future arrangements.”

The idea for a Wesleyan Rideboard was initiated by the Student Activities and Leadership Development committee, now under the director, Timothy Shiner. Site developers included Nate Kaufman ‘08, Izaak Orlansky ‘08, Miranda Sinnott-Armstrong ‘11, Loic Thommeret ‘10, and David Markowitz ’11; Pat Leone, web administrator; Matt Elson, Unix system administrator; and Andrew Warner ‘08, junior programmer. Rideboard was launched March 1.

Wesleyan’s Sustainability Committee and the Office of Human Resources have since embraced Rideboard and are beginning a van-pooling cooperative with Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Easy Street van line. Easy Street travels to various cities in the state. Wesleyan employees had the opportunity to meet with representatives from Connecticut’s DOT Commuter Services July 16 to learn about commuting options. Human Resources plans on inviting the Easy Street back to campus in the fall – look for the announcement in the Wesleyan calendar.

In addition, you can learn more about it by visiting http://www.easystreet.org or contacting:
Kris Tower at the Rideshare Company at 800-972-3279 x 218 or ktower@rideshare.com.

Wesleyan’s Rideboard only is accessible to Wesleyan employees and students via the Electronic Portfolio under “Tools & Links.”

“Having it in the portfolio gives you a chance to know a bit about the person you will be riding with and that’s a good thing,” says Steve Machuga, director of administrative systems.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor