Two UF alumni created an app to make carpooling easier and safer for students looking for rides to and from Gainesville.

The idea for the app, “Wahi Ride,” came from the start of the Facebook group “UF Ride Board!,” which has more than 19,000 members, said Diego De La Hoz, one of the app’s co-founders and group administrators. The ride board allows students to make posts on when they’re looking for rides back home and to school. De La Hoz said he saw some users were having issues with scammers and students not paying others for the ride.

To fix this, De La Hoz and Jonny Petrucco created Wahi Ride and launched it Feb. 1. Since the launch, it has had more than 1,000 downloads, De La Hoz said.

Wahi Ride users need an email address from any Florida university and an active Facebook account to use the app, De La Hoz said. The app verifies phone numbers and conducts a preliminary check on the drivers for security measures.

De La Hoz said they chose to use the word “Wahi” for the app because the word means “share” in one of New Zealand’s official dialects, Maori.

“Could we just advertise Wahi as a carpooling app?” De La Hoz, 24, said. “Absolutely, but I really believe that we as humans have the capability to connect with each other.”

BrinnLee Lambert, an 18-year-old UF microbiology and cell science freshman, said she joined the “UF Ride Board!” in November. She said she would use it if there was an emergency back home in Bonita Springs but her grandma usually picks her up for breaks.

Lambert said the app sounds easy to use and is convenient in comparison to the Facebook page.

“I think it’s safe since it’s all Floridian kids — we’re all smart and intelligent, so I think it’s a good thing to use,” she said.