A depiction of a student driver receiving a call to transport another student.
Photo by Katherine Weeks ‘16
Uber and Public Safety provide new means of transportation
Transportation options for students in the Lehigh Valley are growing with the addition of Uber and a new student driver program organized by Lafayette Public Safety.
Following in the footsteps of major cities like New York and Boston, last Friday the Lehigh Valley welcomed the arrival of Uber, an app-based transportation network. Public Safety’s new driver program now increases the ride options for students in the Lehigh Valley.
Uber started running in the Lehigh Valley on Jan. 30, and passengers can enjoy two free rides in celebration of the company’s arrival, according to the Morning Call.
The service works similar to taking a taxi, but cabs are hailed virtually with the help of the smartphone app. Passengers enter their credit card or debit card information into the app, as well as their pick-up and drop-off locations. Uber then uses the app to connect passengers to drivers in the area.
All Uber drivers must undergo a rigorous background check and driving history check to ensure passenger safety, according to Uber’s website.
Many students recognize the usefulness of the service.
“It would be good, because there are a lot of colleges in the area and so there are a lot of college kids going around and traveling between different campuses,” Alex Jacinto ‘16 said. “It’s convenient because it can take you back and forth safely and promptly.”
For those students who quickly expend their two free Uber rides, an alternate transportation service will is now available through Public Safety.
Public Safety is piloting a new student driver policy to transport students to both on- and off- campus locations in the Lehigh Valley, such as doctor’s appointments. The service is intended to relieve Public Safety Officers of the duty of driving students.
“Public safety wants to continue to support the needs of students but recognizes that their officers can get too tied up in doing what is essentially chauffeuring rather than their primary job [of maintaining safety and security],”Byerly said. “This is one aspect of their job that you don’t have to be a police officer to do and so finding competent students who can perform that service is a nice alternative to doing what many schools have done, which is to reduce services.”
Student drivers will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“If we [Public Safety] see a need based on the number of transportation requests, we could look into expanding for other times,”said Bruce Hill, coordinator of parking and transportation services for Lafayette.
Public Safety has already begun the application and interviewing process for student driver positions. One student was hired and will start this week, according to Hill.
When it comes down to choosing between Uber and Public Safety for their transportation needs, the decision is up to the students.
“[I] would probably use the PSafe Driver program because I would feel more comfortable…with someone I could potentially know that’s in my same community than someone I don’t know, even though I’m sure they go through similar background checks,”Nicole Bauer ‘16 said.