Car Sharing, Carpooling, & Ridesharing

Alternative transportation helps to reduce traffic congestion, improve local air quality, reduce wear on roads, and free up parking spaces...

Car Sharing, Carpooling, and Ridesharing is a Neutrality goal in the Cornell Climate Action Plan (CAP).

Encourage the use of existing private platforms for car sharing, carpooling, and ridesharing by the Cornell community.

Goal: Expand Cornell community membership and participation in alternative transportation options in order to reduce transportation emissions.

Alternative Transportation commuter travel infographic

Carsharing helps to reduce traffic congestion, improve local air quality, reduce wear on roads, and free up parking spaces. Transportation Services currently operates a carshare at the Humphreys Service Building (HSB) for employees requiring transportation for Cornell business. The HSB fleet consists of two all-electric vehicles and two hybrid vehicles. The average travel distance for these vehicles is six miles, so all four vehicles are typically operated as completely electric vehicles. Fleet Services is currently working on the installation of a second carshare program at Cornell’s East Hill Office Building. Two vehicles will be located at East Hill in order to accommodate up to five employees for business travel needs.

Ithaca Carshare is a community-based commuting service. Ithaca Carshare is a membership service offering 24/7 self-serve access to 23 fuel-efficient cars, a minivan, and a pickup truck located in Ithaca. The program allows members to reserve a car or truck online or by phone, drive wherever they like during their reserved time, and then return the car or truck to the same location once they are finished.

The University offers special incentives to Cornell community members to become Carshare members. All Cornell employees enrolled in the OmniRide program are provided with free Just in Case membership or discounted It’s My Car membership to Ithaca Carshare. Non-OmniRide employees are provided with smaller discounts on their memberships. All enrolled Cornell students may can get free or discounted membership as well. In the 2012-2013 academic year, 584 students and 237 employees took advantage of these incentives. Cornell participation has grown from 508 total participants in 2008 to 821 participants in 2012-2013, or about 63 % of Ithaca Carshare’s total membership. Cornell has been subsidizing Cornell community members’ Ithaca Carshare memberships since 2008, through an annual contribution of roughly $30,000 per year.

There are now four Ithaca Carshare locations on the Cornell campus, at Carpenter Hall, in the Maple Avenue parking lot, on North Campus, and on Tower Road across from Kennedy Hall. There are four additional Carshare locations on city streets in Collegetown and surrounding neighborhoods, for a total of eight locations that directly support Cornell students and employees. Since 2011, Ithaca Carshare has added nine Toyota Prius Cs, averaging 43 mpg, to their fleet – representing 36% of the total fleet. Within the next five years Ithaca Carshare hopes to incorporate some electric vehicles as well.

Cornell community member can also choose to carpool to work to save on commuting and campus parking permit costs. One person purchases and is responsible for the commuter parking permit. Carpoolers can link up to six license plates to the permit so it can be switched among registered vehicles. Carpool members make their own arrangements for sharing commuting costs.

Cornell’s award-winning Faculty & Staff RideShare is a more formal version of a carpool, with added incentives and benefits for participants. The Ride- Share program helps over 1,500 eligible employees save on parking permit costs, and many qualify for free parking. Members turn in their individual parking permits and receive one permit on which all of their vehicles are listed. The RideShare parking permit can include up to six vehicles and may be used in any group member’s car. Fees can be shared equally, but all members of the RideShare must be regular Cornell employees receiving university benefits and work in locations where permits are required.

Besides sharing parking permit costs, there are numerous other benefits to joining RideShare, including:

  • Savings on fuel and vehicle maintenance fees.
  • Possible discounts on auto insurance premiums.
  • Eligible groups can receive free books of ten one-day parking permits valid in all Perimeter and Outer Tier Parking areas.
  • A thirty-day risk-free trial period.
  • Cornell provides numerous support services, such as emergency ride and FamilyCare.
  • On-campus transit from parking areas.
  • Ride free on TCAT buses when traveling among Cornell’s Ithaca facilities via the OmniRide Program.
  • Need help finding a ride partner? Check out Zimride!, an online ridesharing community.

Next Steps

  • If current growth trends continue, add one or two carshare locations on or near the Cornell campus per year to meet demand from the university community.
  • Seek opportunities to incorporate more low-emission/electric vehicles into the campus and community carshare fleets.


Continue outreach to campus stakeholders on the value of alternative transportation options, including carsharing, carpooling, and ridesharing.

Cornell is committed to operating in an environmentally responsible manner and encourages low impact travel whenever possible. Here’s how you can help us meet our goal of net zero carbon emissions:

  • AVOID: If the business purpose can be accomplished without your physical presence, consider avoiding the trip altogether and use virtual meeting technology such as WebEx ( Depending on your job function, you can also discuss telecommuting options with your supervisor to reduce your daily commute.
  • REDUCE: Plan your travel strategically to avoid unnecessary additional mileage. Consolidate meetings and errands to save money, time, and emissions.
  • REPLACE: Consider utilizing a more fuel-efficient or low-impact mode of transportation (i.e., bus or carpool versus single-occupant vehicle)
  • OFFSET: Consider offsetting the carbon emissions resulting from your travel. Carbon offsets can be purchased locally through the Finger Lakes Climate Fund ( (FLCF) in just a few minutes! Donations are used for grants to fund energy efficiency projects in low- to moderate-income households in the Finger Lakes region. These grants help pay for insulation, air sealing, energy efficient heating equipment, and other upgrades to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The FLCF is also investigating other cost-effective local carbon offset projects such as solar hot water, solar photovoltaic, biomass heating, and other renewable energy projects. Speak with your supervisor about how offsets can be purchased for business travel.

Here are some great sustainable commuting options available to Cornellians: