Carpooling initiative cuts down gas costs

Julia DeCook

The often long and boring trip to campus could become more bearable for some students and faculty this year.

The SDSU campus not only serves students living in the Brookings community, but also serves students and faculty living in Sioux Falls and other surrounding cities. For a long time, people have had to figure out their own way of commuting to and from their respective homes – but the development of an SDSU carpooling initiative will change that.

“I started working at SDSU last year and I commute from Sioux Falls everyday,” said Angela Lofteness, assistant to the dean of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences. “There’s an obvious flow of traffic into Brookings, and I thought to myself: why isn’t there some form of carpooling going on?”

Lofteness became curious about carpooling and started browsing websites like craigslist to find potential rides. But she didn’t always feel safe reaching out to anonymous posts over the internet.

“Not only did I not feel safe reaching out to strangers for rides, but most of the posts I found were a ‘one-time’ ride kind of deal,” said Lofteness.

When her search was exhausted, Lofteness reached out to the Environmental Sustainability and Stewardship Committee through the InsideState portal. She emailed the chairperson asking about a possible way to start developing an SDSU Carpooling system.

The committee then contacted its administrative liaison, Lynne Finn, who is also assistant director of facilities and services at SDSU. Finn then started to get the wheels turning.

“We started developing it in the beginning of August to get it on the web,” said Finn. “(Aaron Tonsager) had the idea to make a Facebook page.”

Despite the page’s age—three weeks—46 people have already joined it.

“There’s been a lot of student traffic on the page as well as faculty and staff,” said Lofteness. “Sioux Falls is taking off as the main location. There’s been a few posts from Madison, Bruce and some other surrounding towns, but they don’t seem to get much traffic.”

Even though the members of the Facebook group don’t get any kind of tax break for carpooling, it’s still a step towards more sustainable practices in the SDSU community.

“We’ve been moving towards a tipping point with a lot of our green initiatives,” said Finn. “The small group of people who were involved in the beginning are still very passionate, but every new initiative helps.”

Not only is it helping to promote sustainable practices, but the SDSU Carpooling page helps people connect with other members of the community. It is also not just for people affiliated with the university, but for Brookings community members as well.

“Plenty of people commute back and forth for work, not just for school,” said Finn. “With the amount of companies that employ people in Brookings, we hope that it becomes more of a community initiative than just SDSU.”

Those looking for a ride can contact the group through Facebook by searching SDState Carpooling.