Program offers cash for carpooling

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Carpooling to campus just got more lucrative.

The University of Miami has partnered with South Florida Commuter Services to pay students $250 for carpooling at least ten times until April. Each member in the carpool can earn up to $250. Carpoolers must live within three miles of each other, and more than two miles from the Coral Gables campus.

The service was launched Jan. 23, and it is still a pilot program. Outreach Representative Suzell Hopman hopes that students will begin to see the benefits of carpooling even when the campaign is over.

Since Jan. 20, 344 people have applied, and there continues to be new applicants each day, Hopman said.

“Our hope is that we can implement the same program in the fall,” she said. “We won’t use the same money incentive, but we’re aiming to be part of the UM culture by then.”

Outreach Specialist Nelly Navarro started the program at UM as an environmentally friendly way of reducing parking congestion.

The other large Miami campus, Florida International University, has more than 3,000 applicants, but only at UM can students, faculty and staff be paid to carpool.

South Florida Commuter Services reached out to the Association for Commuter Students (ACS) in September 2013. There are also plans to reach out to the Commuter Assistant Program so Commuter Assistants can encourage incoming freshmen to carpool as well.

Commuter Assistants fulfill similar roles to Residential Assistants, but focus more on commuters’ transition to the university.

“We’re in the beginning stages of planning it, but it would most likely be an event where their representatives would come to campus and give more information about the carpool program and other resources,” said Stefania Pinto, ACS vice president.

According to Nick Poynter, manager of customer service, carpoolers will be able to share one parking pass and return unused ones. Parking passes cost between $250 and $475, depending on the zone and amount of time the pass is used.

Students can also register two cars under one permit to promote carpooling, Poynter said.

Upon registering, students can either sign up with friends, or if none live near them, the service will pair them with another student that lives nearby.

However, some students like freshman Amelia Bahamonde don’t feel comfortable being paired with a stranger.

“It can be awkward to carpool with someone I don’t know. That’s why I haven’t signed up for the program,” she said.

Freshman Alejandro Carballido disagrees with Bahamonde.

“It’s a great way to meet people, and I don’t think this should discourage anyone from carpooling,” Carballido said.

Students who have already signed up, such as freshman Lauren Gonzalez, did not hesitate and jumped on the opportunity.

“We started carpooling the day after we got the email for this program,” she said. “We were even more shocked to find out that we had the same schedule, so this worked out perfectly.”

For students to receive $250, they must register before Feb. 28 and record the dates they carpooled. To apply, visit www.get2um.com.

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