A.S. Council announced a pilot program in partnership with Uber on April 19. Students are now able to sign up for a single, one-time use Uber promotional code valued at $10 until June 3, 2016 or until supplies last.
This program supplements the UCSD’s free shuttle service provided by A.S. Safe Rides, which registered undergraduate students can use for up to three free rides per quarter.
Students can redeem the Uber code for rides from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. and must start or end within a three-mile radius of campus, as outlined in an A.S. Council email sent to students registered for Safe Rides. If the ride costs less than $10, the entire transaction is paid for. Otherwise, the student must pay the difference.
Uber will also offer discounts for the Sun God Festival. A.S. Concerts and Events will be providing more details closer to the date of the festival.
Associate Vice President of Enterprise Operations and Student Services Johnny Lee told the UCSD Guardian that the partnership is a result of the poor performance and increasing costs of the existing ride-sharing program.
“Safe Rides takes 45 minutes to an hour for a shuttle to pick you up, and then they still have to pick other people up,” Lee said. “It’s inefficient, and the cost is high because they charge by the hour. Less students use it, and the cost per student gets higher.”
A.S. Council has allocated funds in addition to its existing budget for transportation for the pilot program, but Lee anticipates that with the success of this program, the funds for A.S. Safe Rides can be shared or re-allocated to the partnership with Uber.
“If this program [is] deemed viable [from] student response and opinions, we would look forward to a transition to Uber,” Lee said. “It’ll service more students, [and] it’s a better service. You get more bang for the buck.”
Lee explained that he immediately began working on developing a program to improve transportation for students.
“I started this right away [when the school year began] because of the process that it takes,” Lee told the Guardian. “It takes a lot of time, especially when you have multiple companies to deal with in addition to assessing legal risk and liability.”
Similar programs with Uber are active at the University of Southern California and the University of Florida. Lee told the Guardian that he hopes the financial and safety benefits of this new partnership will draw support from administrators.
“Because of the financial constraint, we couldn’t satisfy everyone’s needs,” Lee said. “Given this program’s success [at UCSD], like other schools in the country, the campus administration, not A.S. [Council], will see an incentive to subsidize a program like this for the safety of the students and the campus. If they want a safer campus climate for students to prosper in, this is something that they really do have to invest in.”