The Michigan Union Ride Board recalls a time when students felt comfortable thumbing a ride anywhere. Every day, thousands of students pass by the U.S. map in the basement of the Union, but it remains largely unused.
The Ride Board, a map with designated locations ranging from Detroit to Mexico, gives students, faculty, and staff a way to connect with others traveling to their desired destinations.
To use the ride board, travelers fill out a slip of paper indicating where they want to go, when they want to travel and if they”re riding or driving. They leave the slip in a numbered slot that corresponds to the map location and wait to be contacted by some offering or needing a ride.
LSA freshman Meaghan Roeder heard about the Ride Board from a friend at another school and tried using it at the beginning of the year when she wanted to visit a friend in Ohio.
“I saw it one day at the Union and decided to try it. I figured if anybody did offer me a ride I could check it out and make a decision if I wanted a ride from them,” she said. “I never did hear from anyone, but I would definitely try again.”
Though many students pass through the Union basement without noticing the marked map, many said they were interested in the idea.
“I have no money and no job and so that would be my only option,” LSA freshman Evan Paster said. “It”s cheaper than the commuter (bus) or a plane ticket.”
LSA freshman Dan Harris agrees that getting a ride from another student is cheaper and definitely worth a shot.
“It makes sense to me and so I”ll probably always try. All you have to do is pick up four or five numbers and call them,” Harris said.
For Nursing sophomore Lindsey Jack, however, the ride wouldn”t be worth the risk. “I usually just ride home with people I know. It”d be kind of freaky riding with someone you don”t know,” Jack said.
Union Director Audrey Schwimmer suggested meeting potential drivers or riders in a public place before leaving Ann Arbor.
Schwimmer said shared rides are popular at colleges across the nation and that ride boards are fairly common.
The location of the board and the lack of rides are two of the many reasons LSA senior Ronny Luhur wouldn”t use the system.
“I”ve never used it and wouldn”t use it because I know no one uses it,” Luhur said. “And it should be on the Internet Not everyone goes into the Union.”
Michigan Union Board of Representatives Chair Geoff Hanson said the board came to the group”s attention about three years ago and an online ride board was started to utilize the medium.
“The guy who was working graduated and he didn”t hand the project off to anyone,” Hanson said. “We underestimated the importance of promoting it and the project was placed on the back burner.”
Hanson said the MUBR would like to do more to promote the online Ride Board and eventually get rid of the one in the Union.
“I think it”s more accessible to everyone. An engineer from North Campus may not be able to or feel like going all the way to the Union to check on the board, where he could check the online one from his dorm,” Hanson said. “Really, nobody knows about it but we”d like to promote it more and get people using it.”