Following the retirement of the safety escort program, the university has partnered with the ride service Lyft to provide students with low-cost rides home from campus.
According to an email sent to SDSU students by Parking and Transportation Services, students can now request up to three rides on the ridesharing app within the campus jurisdiction on weeknights between midnight and 4 a.m.. Through this program, students will not be able to take Lyfts from residence halls, only from academic buildings.
Up to $5 will be waived from each ride. If a ride surpasses $5, the user will be charged the remaining balance.
In an email from the Director of Parking and Transportation Services, Debbie Richeson said the new program is supposed to make campus a safer place at night.
“The purpose of this program is to assist students who are on campus studying late at night,” Richeson said.
In an August interview with The Daily Aztec, university police spokesperson Raquel Herriott said the retirement of the safety escort program resulted primarily from SDSUPD being understaffed during the later hours.
“The problem that we were having with the escort program was that people wanted an escort off campus and we were only allowing for escorts within campus and within certain jurisdictions,” Herriott said. “It became a little bit more difficult to take on all of the different requests, especially with the amount of resources that we had.”
Through the approval of a grant from the Aztec Parents Association, Parking and Transportation Services was able to discuss possible partnerships with companies like Lyft and Uber. Their knowledge of these companies’ programs on other campuses led them to choose Lyft.
“We felt Lyft was more prepared to partner with us due to their partnerships with other universities, and we liked the background checks they require for their drivers,” Richeson said.
The program began on Oct. 1, and is still in an early pilot phase. Parking and Transportation Services are currently awaiting statistical data from Lyft that could help improve the program. Despite that, various students have provided suggestions for improving this service.
“Making it available seven days a week would make it more way more useful (to students),” aerospace engineering junior Michael Grisanti said.
Grisanti also said, despite its purpose in assisting students studying late night during the week, many students are on campus studying during the weekends too, especially during testing seasons.
Some students have also said the purpose and usage of this Lyft program should be shifted from students studying to maintaining student safety whenever students go out, such as when they go to parties.
“I feel like it would be a lot more useful during the weekends,” accounting junior Damian Orozco said. “Instead of being available Monday through Thursday, maybe switch those days to Thursday through Sunday.”
Orozco also said this would help ensure the program would be beneficial and utilized more during the weekends, whenever students party late at night and may need a ride home.
ISCOR and French junior Alexandra Davidovich said the university should consider the idea of implementing a flat rate for the service.
“If they expanded the hours and not made them free rides (for rides up to $5 which may only cover a small distance), but give a low flat reduced rate (for all places on or near campus), I would do that a lot,” Davidovich said.
With this being a pilot program, SDSU Parking and Transportation Services is welcoming feedback and encouraging students to contact them if they have any suggestions or requests.
It has also stated it will consider the future of the program once it has gathered the appropriate data. It cannot say if this program will be a permanent option for SDSU students.