App simplifies traveling home for college students

By Amanda Rhee, Staff Writer

While transportation and ride-sharing apps are gaining popularity, many college students who don’t have cars are using them to get around places on and off campus. A new carpooling app called Wyth has been released exclusively for college students and is currently being piloted at the University.

Ciara Lynch, senior in Social Work and campus manager of Wyth, works with the app’s CEOs based in Chicago to provide college students with a cheap and easy way to travel to and from campus town.

Lynch organizes campus events and coordinates with all the other ambassadors on campus to increase downloads of the app.

“The app is designed to carpool home long distances, so that’s why it’s being piloted at U of I,” Lynch said. “We have a lot of people in the suburbs of Chicago, so the CEOs thought it would be a good school to pilot the app at.”

Although the app currently only provides carpooling for long distances, in the coming month, they are launching short distances of 10-mile radii, which could mean trips to Walmart or the grocery store. Students can ask other drivers around campus to see if they are making the same trip.

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The app is designed to be more cost-efficient than Uber or Lyft due to the carpooling aspect, as well as the option for negotiation between the driver and the rider.

“The price is not a flat rate,” said Kerri Ann Fahey, Wyth campus ambassador and senior in LAS. “You can bargain the price so if the passenger says, ‘I can pay you $25 to take me to Chicago,’ the driver can say ‘How about $30?’ That’s a big thing that makes this app different: You can be reasonable with prices and it allows you to choose the price.”

Wyth could provide students with the cheapest and fastest form of transportation from the city and suburbs to campus. A driver is also able to take multiple riders and each rider does not have to be going to the same destination.

Since the app encourages ride-sharing, it’s also eco-friendly.

“A mile is a pound of carbon emission saved,” said Dakota Hietikko, Wyth campus ambassador and senior in FAA. “If you have four people in one car as opposed to four different cars, you’re saving a lot.”

One of the main focuses of the ambassadors is to get the app to be used more before Easter weekend since many students will be planning to go home. 

“Finding a ride home rather than taking the bus or having my parents pick me up in the city or airport would be more convenient,” Lynch said. “We know there’s a need, it’s just a matter of getting the word out about the app.”

For the rest of the semester, the campus ambassadors are also focused on trying to get more drivers on board with incentives. They are planning to launch an offer of giving $25 gas cards to anybody who signs up and completes their first round-trip with three passengers. On average, it costs around $20-$25 to get from Champaign to Chicago or one of the suburbs, so that gas card would cover the expenses of one trip, Fahey said. 

Wyth has been trying to spread the word about the app through various forms of advertising, as well as getting involved with organizations on campus.

“We are running a contest on campus in order to incentivize sign-ups for the app,” Lynch said. “It’s targeted towards student organizations, so the organizations that receive the most downloads will correlate with a monetary prize.”

Organizations involved in these contests are able to greatly benefit from this opportunity. Some organizations are donating the money to charity, scholarships, philanthropic events or to build whatever they need.

“We’re looking for large groups of people for philanthropy,” Lynch said. “We’re willing to pledge a dollar for every download. It’s a double benefit: It benefits the app, but it also benefits other people. We want to grow on this campus and we want other organizations to grow with us.”

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