Project: Zimtervention

Executive Summary:

Project: Zimtervention will establish Zimride, an online ridesharing system, as a viable option to single-occupancy vehicle(SOV) trips to and from the UW campus. This will achieve goals of reducing campus-related carbon emissions and promoting sustainable behavior change.

The principle component of the project is to fund a new student position, Campus Rideshare Coordinator (CRC) to:
1) establish a critical mass of UW Zimride users; and
2) integrate UW Zimride into institutions and campus life

The CRC will work with Commuter Services during Spring 2011 and the 2011-2012 academic year, part-time at 10 hrs/week. This will fall under an undergraduate Student Assistant job classification, with hourly wages of $13 and ineligible for additional benefits.

This is the second phase of a graduate student project through the Program on the Environment’s Environmental Management Certificate (EMC). To date, UW Zimride has been introduced on campus with one of the most successful launches in program history, and the EMC students have begun implementation of a strategy for changing SOV behavior,relying on evidence-based principles of community-based social marketing and theories of sustainable behavior change.

Additional work is needed, however, to establish a critical mass of users and integrate Zimride into UW life as a trusted and well-known mode of transportation. As such, the role of the CRC will be to continue to implement and expand upon the community-based social marketing campaign. The CRC will also work to create institutional legacies, such as including Zimride into new student and staff orientation, promoting it for travel during academic breaks, and incorporating it into other Commuter Service programs. In short, the CRC will work to integrate UW Zimride into campus life.

Student Involvement:

Although working closely with Commuter Services, the CRC is a largely independent and entrepreneurial student position. The CRC is expected to work with and recruit other students as necessary to complete tasks, including active Zimride users. Their work will include a focus on the entire student body, with particular emphasis on students who regularly commute by car, as well as faculty and staff.

The position is envisioned as one that empowers the CRC to learn about the principles of sustainability and implementing behavior change, while developing skills and expertise related to project management, collaboration, outreach, and communications. Their work, as it relates to community-based social marketing, is informed directly from the student-led EMC Team project.

Education & Outreach:

Education and outreach are primary goals, as described in the executive summary, as they relate to raising awareness of UW Zimride and influencing student behavior. This will be based on the marketing strategy developed during the current phases of Project: Zimtervention, described below, which simultaneously markets UW Zimride and provides project
publicity. By the end of winter quarter 2011, this strategy will be updated to reflect lessons learned and new approaches identified.

Marketing Strategy

Determining the barriers and benefits for engaging in a particular behavior is an important step in crafting the particular tactics for a marketing, awareness, and outreach strategy. Zimride has already identified two key barriers to ridesharing: inconvenience, both in terms of finding and scheduling rides; and trust, including personal safety and reliability. As a ridesharing service, Zimride addresses these by providing: an intuitive, easy to use interface that is designed to encourage usage; user ratings and reviews; an exclusive campus-only network; and connections to social media.

This makes promotional and awareness campaigns important, as our focus groups suggest that if potential users are unaware of how Zimride is different from other ridesharing services, they will not be interested. Additionally, because of the unique nature of ridesharing, achieving a critical mass of users is essential for successful behavior change. However, a promotional strategy alone will not lead to behavior change. As such, community-based social marketing and theories of social influence must be incorporated into the promotion of Zimride, and additional tactics employed. We have developed multiple campaigns to influence commuting behavior: 

EMAIL CAMPAIGN. Zimride has provided sample emails based on successful campaigns at previous universities, which we have modified for different audiences (such as students and staff/faculty) as well as rideshare barriers and benefits. For example, email messages to club sports groups emphasize the social and convenience benefits of Zimriding, while
messages to parking permit holders emphasize the potential for savings on gas and parking. Campus-wide email is particularly effective in marketing the program, as well as providing project outreach and education.

TABLING & EVENTS CAMPAIGN. Building off of a community-based online campaign, an in-person campaign is also a fundamental component of success in influencing behavior. This will involve tabling at events and locations, with signing people up to Zimride using a laptop. It will also involve a raffle incentive (such as a gas gift card) and promotional
materials (post cards, car decals, etc.). Targeted locations include E1 parking (and other lots, as appropriate), Red Square, and at major sporting or other events.

ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN. Additional promotions include onsite, media, and event advertising, as well as the potential cfor online advertising. Posters, and other materials are less important for promotion than virtual efforts, but they do serve as prompts to remind people about ridesharing and provide outreach and education about sustainable
transportation. Posters in parking garages, for example, may serve as daily prompts for people to consider ridesharing. News media can also be successful in raising general awareness and, if frequent enough, provide behavioral prompts and appeal to social norms.

TESTIMONIAL CAMPAIGN. We recommend the CRC to develop a video and testimonial campaign. This provides outreach about Zimride and the UW’s commitment to sustainability, while helping to change social norms on campus. Zimride has found such testimonial campaigns to be effective in encouraging use. This can also be used for outreach and
educational aspects related to Project: Zimtervention itself.

Environmental Impact:
  • Transportation
Project Longevity:

Environmental Problem:

This project addresses sustainable transportation for the UW campus community. According to the Climate Action Plan, commuting contributes the equivalent of over 50,000 million grams of CO2 each year. Single occupancy vehicle (SOV) commuting, in particular, is responsible for a large share of commuting emissions. Among the UW-Seattle campus 
community alone, 21% of all community members (11,480) commute by SOV. 
For many years, the University has made progress reducing the number of SOV commute trips, in large part by promoting U-PASS and the use of public transit. However, system capacity and budget realities constrain the transit system’s potential as an alternative for all SOV commute trips. In order to make further progress, additional options for 
commuters are needed, particularly those for whom other options (such as transit, walking, and biking) are not currently considered viable. 
Because Zimride is a community-based, social network for ridesharing, expanding the UW Zimride network benefits all member of the UW campus community. This includes students, faculty, and staff, whether interested in commuting to campus or traveling to attend academic conferences, to visit family and friends, or to make other trips out of town. 
Zimride also strengthens social bonds among students, faculty, and staff by promoting a community-based form of transportation. 
As Zimride members post ride matches and requests on Facebook, this makes the UW’s commitment to sustainable transportation more visible both within and beyond the UW community. Additionally, a comprehensive Zimride network ensures better access to campus by reducing congestion, making the university more accessible, and maximizing the best 
use of limited parking spaces. 

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

Our project will have quantifiable, commuting behavior impacts from Commuter Services and Zimride.

From Commuter Services data, we will be able to measure and observe trends related to:
 Number of carpool permits
 Number of daily carpool parking transactions
 Number of SOV parking permits 

From Zimride administrative tools, the following outcomes can be estimated:
 Miles Saved
 Gallons of Gas Saved
 Pounds of CO2 Emissions Saved
 Grams of Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Emissions Saved
 Grams of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) Emissions Saved
 Pounds of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Emissions Saved
 Grams of Particulate Matter (PM) Emissions Saved
 Grams of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) Emission

These impacts will be measured through Zimride administrative tools, which automatically calculate estimated environmental outcomes. Data collection by Commuter Services, as well as a survey at the end of the project, will measure behavior change and awareness/outreach goals. The impact of Zimride will also be captured in the campus-wide
transportation survey (next scheduled for fall 2012).

In addition to CSF, this information will be reported to Commuter Services.

Total amount requested from the CSF: $8,520
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


ItemCost per ItemQuantityTotal Cost
Publicity & Communication
Promotional items (car decal, eg)$200/qtr4 qtr $800
Posters/print materials$150/qtr4 qtr $600
Incentives$100/qtr4 qtr $400
Advertising$200/qtr4 qtr $800
Personnel & Wages

Non-CSF Sources:

Source/Description Amount RequestedDate Requested Date Received/Announced
Ongoing Zimride support and contracted services$7500 1/2011 Contract arranged by Commuter Services
Advertising support from Commuter Services $12001/2011 Approved for CRC use for 2011-2012
Project Completion Total:


TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Prepare position description, post, and interview candidates 3 wks, Winter Qtr 2011End of Winter Qtr 2011
Finalize marketing strategy and recommended work plan 3 wks, Winter Qtr 2011End of Winter Qtr 2011
Project start date (March 28) & first installment: CRC begins Spring Qtr 2011 Beginning Spring Qtr 2011
CRC prepares new student orientation campaign for launch Autumn quarterSpring Qtr 2011 End of Spring Qtr 2011
Video/testimonial campaignAutumn Qtr 2011 End of Autumn Qtr 2011
Thanksgiving/Winter break campaign2 wks, Autumn Qtr 2011 End of Autumn Qtr 2011
Spring break campaign2 wks, Winter Qtr 2012 End of Winter Qtr 2012
Zimride survey, focus groups1 wk, Spring Qtr 2012 Mid-Spring Qtr 2012
Final report, target date for completion, and funds spent (June 8) Spring Qr 2012 End of Spring Qtr 2012

Project Approval Forms: