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Lilly Worthley, Wheeli Woman

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Lilly Worthley
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Source: Jesse Baum, EAN/University of Vermont Clean Energy Internship Program

Love Vermont – Hate the Drive Home

Lilly Worthley moved to Burlington Vermont 3 years ago from Portland, Maine, to study Environmental Science at the University of Vermont. She found that she loved living in Burlington, saying, “ I like that there’s a lot of stuff to do in town, but then there’s the mountains right there and there’s a lot you can do outside… you can never get too bored.”

The only thing that she did not like about living in Vermont was the hassle of getting from home (in Portland) to school and back. To do it cheaply, she had to take a bus all the way down to Boston first to catch another bus to Portland—a long and uncomfortable journey. Yet, when she drove, she felt bad having empty, available space in her car—it felt like a waste.

A Student-to-Student Website for Wanderers (and Carpoolers)

Then, sophomore year, she heard about a website/ app called Wheeli, which allows college students to post rides offered to other students, or to post requests for rides from their peers. Founded in 2011 by an experienced traveler named Jean-Pierre Adéchi, the idea was to maximize carpooling in a way that was safe and easy for students.

Worthley was skeptical at first. After all, there are a lot of sites that market to college students. So she did a little research, and then decided to create an account. She input how many passengers her car could carry, what sort of car it was, and answered a few questions on personal preferences, such as whether she would allow pets in her car, whether she allowed smoking in her car, whether she liked to listen to music or chat while driving. She then had to enter information from a credit card or bank card account, to set up a way for passengers to compensate her for gas.  For each ride, drivers set an asking price for passengers, and payment is processed through the site. 

Wading in - A simple way to save $, meet people, and use cars more efficiently

To try Wheeli, Worthley selected a weekend in the middle of the semester, when she was going home for a visit. Though she had only posted the ride to test the water, to her surprise, 3 students were interested in the ride. “ It definitely saved me money… I charged $10 per person, I covered gas, which was my goal, and I even made a little money because I got more people in the car than I thought I would.”

Worthley now says she would not only use Wheeli again, she also recommends it to other students, and plans on using Wheeli in the fall. “It was a great trip, and I had company, which was what I wanted… it just makes sense. If you have space in your car, why wouldn’t you offer it to people heading in the same direction?”

Wheeli works out

Worthley likens Wheeli to the days when students would post rides on bulletin boards in their dorms.

“ I told my mom and she was like, ‘it’s just like the map in the library!’

“This seems so much easier.” She adds.