New website co-ordinates cheap student carpools

Student-run website, Campuslifts.ca, promotes cheap rides

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Hitchhiking for a ride

Nicole Bakker

FUN FACT: WITHOUT OPPOSABLE THUMBS, MONKEYS COULDN’T HITCHHIKE. INSTEAD, THEY’D BLUDGEON OTHER MONKEYS WITH JAGGED ROCKS AND RIDE THEIR BLOODY CARCASSES DOWN RIVERS. Thanks to Campuslifts.ca, students may not have to hitchhike anymore either. The website helps travelling students connect with each other.

While many celebrated St. Patrick’s Day over the weekend, others celebrated the launch of Campuslifts.ca.

Website designers Mark McGrath and Kyle MacDonald created the website specifically for Ontario university and college students who are offering rides or need a lift.

“I found a lot of people were travelling at the same time but no one was sharing a ride,” said MacDonald, who is finishing high school and co-founded Campuslifts.ca with McGrath, a part-time university student.

“[Students] log onto the website and sign up using their university e-mail specifically so that people other than students can’t use the service,” MacDonald said.

“Students can create a profile, if they wish, with a picture and additional information.”

After creating an account, students can choose their date of departure, destination and whether they’re looking for a one-way or round-trip ride. Students are then matched with other students who have posted rides for that day, MacDonald said.

The site recommends students accepting rides share gas costs or offer to buy snacks to pay for the ride.

CampusLifts promotes its services as financially affordable, environmentally friendly, safe and fun.

Elgin Austen, director of Campus Community Police Services, expressed concerns about the program.

“It may work fairly well but I can see it would be used by certain individuals with particular intentions,” he said.

“It has to come with a degree of caution. There are some vulnerabilities attached to this kind of program.”

Austen was particularly concerned about the degree of anonymity associated with the program, as passengers wouldn’t know the driving record, safety of the vehicle and intentions of the driver while drivers would be unaware of whom they’re giving rides.

“[There would be] lots of ways non-students could log on,” Austen said.

“We used to have the University Students’ Council ride board,” said USC President Fab Dolan. “The problems that arose were likely the liability aspects.

“You didn’t know who was posting rides, so there was a risk of danger to our students.”

MacDonald says the program is safe because students can access the drivers’ and passengers’ profiles or search people’s Facebook profiles to better understand whom they’ll be meeting and decrease risks.

Although the program was officially launched over the weekend, Campuslifts.ca conducted a two-week test in January at Queen’s University, the University of Guelph, the University of Ottawa and Wilfrid Laurier University.

“The response has always been good,” MacDonald said, though he admitted he hasn’t spoken with the administration at any schools included on the website.

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