A recently launched online service called Gaucho Rides allows UCSB students to coordinate carpooling details for commuting to and from campus during weekends and holiday seasons.
Gaucho Rides, which is available at www.gauchorides.com, allows users to indicate whether they are a “driver” or “passenger” and has boxes where students to fill in their starting county, ending county and date of departure. Drivers with extra seats can post informa- tion about their travel and passengers have the oppor- tunity to match up rides.
According to founder Sanchit Gupta, a first-year computer science major, he first came up with the idea for Gaucho Rides in October when he noticed how much of a hassle students went through when look- ing for rides home. Gupta, who lives in Cupertino, said he found public transportation inconvenient and expensive.
“[Cupertino] is five hours north, and I’m a freshman so I don’t have a car right now,” Gupta said. “Commuting back home is a huge hassle. I took public transportation, rode the Amtrak a few times, but it was a pain because the trip was twice as long as and more expensive than if I had just carpooled with someone else.”
Gupta completed the website during winter break and said the perks of Gaucho Rides are its easy accessibility and quick method of communicating with fellow students.
“You can find people you don’t know but are also UCSB students that are going to the same area as you,” Gupta said. “If you ever need a ride, you can always go to this service and find one. A lot of people rely on public transportation, and it’s a reliable way of travel but it’s not the best way. It isn’t cheap and it’s not the first option. [Gaucho Rides] would be an easy way to find a way home.”
Gupta said he is waiting for people to find out about the service in order to gauge the website’s success and productivity.
“I haven’t really released or launched the site, per se, to the public yet,” Gupta said. “I can’t really do that unless I get a large amount of people at once or else people won’t be able to find rides if not many students are using it.”
If the service shows promise, Gupta said he plans to supplement it with additional features to make the site more personal and secure.
“Right now this is just my first version, and if people start using it, I’ll make it better and implement the Facebook API so you can see who’s writing the posts so it’s not a total stranger,” Gupta said. “I was also thinking of making payments online so you don’t have to worry about not getting the payments.”
Gupta’s previous projects include UC Calculator, a tool made to give high school students statistics of their approximate standing in acceptance rates for nine UC campuses; Secretify, an online venue for people to share images without the worry of the picture’s potential harm, and Pickmate, a way for new car buyers to find their ideal car by searching through a largedatabase of vehicles.
According to Sahil Keval, first-year business marketing major at Hofstra University in New York and a close friend of Gupta’s, hundreds of students are headed to the same place during break but do not know it. Keval said Gaucho Rides would be a useful way to fix this problem, but it can also help students create connections with each other.
“Once, Sanchit got a ride from someone through Rideshare and found out that the driver who carpooled him home was a third-year who also majored in computer science,” Keval said. “Sanchit felt Gaucho Rides would help a lot of people in more ways than one.”
Gupta said being a computer science major encourages him to practically apply his knowledge to actual events and issues in life, something he finds rewarding when done correctly.
“Computer science teaches you to attack real world problems, but you don’t really get to do that unless you implement it on your own because right now you mostly just go to class,” Gupta said. “I thought I’d implement [Gaucho Rides] on my own so I could get it out and help people. It’s just a personal satisfaction to see that I’m benefitting myself and people in my community. It’s kind of fun to see me put what I’m learning from my computer science degree to real life.”
A version of this article appeared on page 3 of January 10, 2013′s print edition of the Nexus.