Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Community Building through Ride Share (ST10514)

SUNY Research Foundation


Ride-sharing is a simple strategy to alleviate the very serious problems caused by the many cars commuting long distances. These problems include air pollution, high costs of gas, road congestion and social disengagement. Ride sharing is a sensible response to the global problems of climate change and U.S. dependency on oil. Two professors at Purchase College developed a prototype of an online application that creates a new and improved approach to introducing and sustaining ride-sharing. The initial prototype (referred to as Purpool) was tested at Purchase College with professors and students.

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Project Description

The Purpool project focused on the design, development and commercialization of an online application that facilitates ride-sharing at workplaces including corporate campuses, hospitals and college campuses. It uses innovative new Web and other technologies to creatively increase ride-sharing participation. Brooke Singer and Peter Ohring, faculty members in the New Media program at Purchase College, SUNY first conceived Purpool in 2006 as a new and improved approach to introducing and sustaining ridesharing. They designed the prototype application, Purpool, for Purchase. It is a workplace-based social networking site that centers on the commute and promotes ride-sharing as a community building activity. Participants have profiles and join carpool groups called pools. By making this program workplace-specific, they are building off of existing trust networks made up of people who share similar commuting patterns.


Purpool offers a lower cost alternative to other forms of ride sharing programs, such as van-pooling. The costs beyond adapting the software and server space are minimal and center on publicity and incentives (e.g. reserved carpool only parking spaces, subsidized parking, ride-to-work day) to encourage and maintain participation in the ride-sharing program. In addition, the social networking aspects of the project provide benefits for individuals and the community that distinguish it from other commuter assistance packages.

Project Results

Purpool 2.0 has been developed and tested at SUNY Purchase, Bowdoin College, Colgate University, and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation headquarters in Albany, NY. Purpool is a unique rideshare application is its approach to enabling communication amongst users including scheduling and a bulletin board; visualizations of benefits realized for the individual, the carpool, and the workplace community; and behavior-based features to engender increased participation and performance. In addition, the social networking aspects of the project provides benefits for individuals and the community that distinguishes it from other ride-share applications. Purpool has been released as an open source project and will allow other entities, including workplaces, to download the underlying code, customize and deploy. The code has been adapted to release as an open-­source application that is relatively easy to install. The software has been released at github ( and sourceforge (, two of the major open source repositories.


SUNY Research Foundation
Empire State Plaza Concourse Level Rm 106
Albany, NY 12224

Principle Investigator

Peter Ohring

Universities Involved

SUNY Purchase


Project Type:

Software Application/Analysis Tool

Technologies Types:


NYSERDA Contact Information

Tara Rainstrom


R&D - End Use App & Innovation

Contract Details

Start Date: 6/6/2008 1
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: ST10514

Last Updated: 2/22/2013