Finding rides to school is about to get easier, and safer, for faculty members, staffers and students at the University of Arizona.
The UA has launched a new social network that allows users to log in from a smartphone or computer to find out who's going their way.
The car-pooling application was created by Zimride, a firm that's arranged similar setups for dozens of private firms and universities, including Stanford, Cornell and UCLA.
The service, accessible through Facebook, requires a university ID to log in. Those seeking or offering rides can create profiles that show their favorite driving music, smoking preferences and when they're traveling.
The site is zimride.arizona.edu and is searchable, and can be used for ongoing commutes or one-time rides.
Because users all are members of the UA community, the setup offers greater security than car pooling with strangers, said Bill Davidson, the UA's marketing manager for transportation and parking.
With more than 50,000 students and employees, the school is ripe for ride-sharing, Davidson said. Besides saving money for riders and drivers, car pooling is kinder to the environment and helps the university save money by reducing the need to build more parking sites.
In its first few days, the new site has already attracted 170 users. The big test will come this fall, when the new school year starts. Some of the $12,000 startup cost was covered by grants from the UA Green Fund.