The Waze Carpool app displayed on a student's phone against the background of the parking lot. Photo by Lexie Boren.

Waze Carpooling App Aims to Fix Campus Parking Crisis

Anyone who has been on Lewis & Clark’s campus notices two things: a commitment to sustainability, and the massive overcrowding of the parking lots. The Students Engaged in Eco Defense (SEED), alongside the Office of Sustainability, Transportation and Parking, Facilities and the Dean of Students have established the use of a carpooling application to address the parking crisis and reduce carbon emissions on campus.

The application, Waze Carpool, was invented in 2018 by the parent app Waze Navigation and operates on a GPS navigation system created and owned by Google. SEED chose to use Waze Carpool specifically because it is free to users and has a user-friendly and trustworthy navigation system. Waze Carpool works by having students, staff and community members input their driving schedules and destination, which automatically connects them with other users wishing to travel along the same route. Riders and drivers can offer and request rides along their route and will receive notifications about available rides which they can accept, deny or message regarding pickups and drop-offs. Although the app is public, a user can input their LC email address and filter their possible rides exclusively to other users with LC emails.

SEED members Evelyn Hunsberger ’19, Naomi Goldman-Nagel ’19 and Ariel Moyal ’19, were the driving forces behind bringing the app to the LC community. They say their inspiration came from LC’s commitment to sustainability and as a possible solution to the traffic congestion on and around campus.

Goldman-Nagel explained the benefit of carpooling in regards to the parking problem.

“The parking crisis isn’t really a crisis of not enough spots, it’s about too many cars,” Goldman-Nagel said. “There are 1,200 available spots across the three campuses, that means that there are more than 1,200 cars driving to campus every day — to reduce that number because of carpooling would be extremely significant.”

Lowering the number of cars on campus through ridesharing, according to Hunsberger, also reduces LC’s carbon footprint and is more sustainable than building extra lots to accommodate commuters who need parking spaces.

Many students on campus already use similar ridesharing apps, such as Uber or Lyft. Other ridesharing apps give you the choice of riding exclusively with your group or, for a lower price, to carpool with others. Director of Sustainability Amy Dvorak explained how the Waze app will compete with these popular choices available.

“It has the same feel as Uber or Lyft which is super popular, but it’s with people you know or could potentially know in your community,” Dvorak said. “There’s more comfort and ease in that you have familiarity in the people and where we’re going.”

The creators stressed other benefits of using Waze as opposed to other ridesharing apps, mentioning that the app creates a network of people connected to LC and helps build a stronger community of students and staff who would have otherwise never met on campus. In the future, LC also plans on offering coveted benefits to Waze users. One of the biggest advantages to users of the app is access to 50 exclusive reserved parking spaces spread throughout campus.

Another possible incentive the creators discussed were monetary rewards ranging from $30 – $50 or Amazon gift cards for those who complete the most rides each week. Currently, LC is offering discounted parking passes for students in carpools and a $50 Amazon gift card for those who sign up to carpool this week.

Additionally, the app gives drivers the option to either charge per mile or waive the fee for gas, which provides drivers with more choices and makes the passenger price cheaper than other ridesharing apps.

The team working on the app expressed concern with the lack of student involvement and issues with advertising on the undergraduate campus and is currently in the process of expanding the program to the LC Graduate and Law campuses in an effort to engage more people to begin driving with the app.

SEED leaders are optimistic about the carpooling program and its effects on sustainability at LC and beyond.

“Now is a time when there are so many environmental atrocities,” Hunsberger said. “This is just one little step we can take, even though carpooling might seem like an inconvenience, we need to start taking steps like this to change things in the world.”

Any questions and inquiries can be directed to seed@lclark.edu and carpoolproject@lclark.edu.

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