NuRide is here!

Posted by Chris Ludewig, February 16th , 2007

A couple of years ago at one of the first RENew Northfield Transportation Committee meetings Chris Ludewig expressed an interest in an internet based ride sharing system to make it very easy to match people and their destinations. I liked the idea too. After some initial discussions with both the St. Olaf and Carleton Computer Science Departments to have computer science majors design and build a system it was determined that it was probably too large a project for them.

And then the first big spike in gas prices came. All of a sudden it seems there were ride sharing systems all over on the internet. I found three that seemed of most interest, each with a different marketing approach. The first wanted to charge the users of the system, the drivers and riders, which from my experience in carpooling did not seem viable. The second proposed that the cost is borne by the government entity but we were in the midst of a no-new-taxes frenzy – and this would have been new spending. But the third took a different approach: they were giving the drivers and riders rewards points for SAVING money and gas and reducing the number of vehicles on the road.
That third one is NuRide.

It works like this: A government entity pays a relatively small fee for the software and its maintenance. NuRide does all of the sales and marketing. Advertisers or sponsors on the site offer rewards – such as Ben and Jerry’s or Target. Drivers and riders earn reward points for each shared trip. Each can earn up to $1,000 in reward points in a year.

Our ten person vanpool that runs daily from Northfield to St. Paul is signing up! And what does that mean for us? Including our pre-tax payment for lease, insurance, maintenance and fuel (about a cup of bio-diesel and a quart of petroleum-based diesel per person per day), parking and a subsidy for vanpooling minus our $1,000 NuRide reward = $0!

So if you know of anyone who is going from anywhere to anywhere in Minnesota, get them to sign up!

Charlie Stark, RENew Board Member

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