Brandeis commutes green with RideAmigos


Want to ease the stress of rush hour traffic? Sustainable Brandeis advocates for RideAmigos.

Amy Rinaldo has discovered a new way of commuting that’s helped take the edge off traffic, curb greenhouse gas emissions and make new friends.

The assistant director of English Language Programs at Brandeis is one of 158 people across campus on the ridesharing map RideAmigos, an online application run by Sustainable Brandeis that facilitates alternative commuting.

“Traffic can be the bane of my existence,” said Rinaldo, who travels about nine miles each way from her home in Medford to Brandeis and back again. “Traffic can be long and stressful and I also feel environmentally guilty and frustrated about my commute. It takes a toll on life, I think, which is why I was so excited about the possibility of carpooling.”

Brandeis sustainability manager Mary Fischer helped set up RideAmigos last October. To promote the platform, she attends human resources orientation events for new hires and works with faculty, staff and student sustainability groups.

Carpooling trips to and from Brandeis have nearly doubled since the program launched.

“We are making strides,” Fisher said. “More people realize that they live much closer to other Brandeisians, including those who have compatible schedules.”

Rinaldo carpools once a week at most but also commutes by driving herself, biking or taking the train. Her fellow carpoolers have become friends, and those friendships have helped her learn more about Brandeis beyond her own department.

“Brandeis has a great community and carpooling has helped me meet people from across campus in a different capacity,” Rinaldo said. “Sometimes we chat, other times we listen to music or a podcast. I find the interaction to be pretty natural and easy-going.”

Being connected to someone else’s schedule can be an adjustment, but Rinaldo said it didn’t take long to get comfortable with it, and the benefits of carpooling outweigh the obstacles. Plus, there are contingencies available, such as the Emergency Ride Home program funded by the state, which means no one ever has to be stuck on campus.

“I’m looking forward to carpooling more in the future,” Rinaldo said. “Sometimes when I leave campus and traffic is backed up, I wonder how many people are going to the same place as me. I think a lot of people can use this tool. Cutting down on driving is good for many different reasons.”

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