Need a Lyft to safety? Ohio State students to get discounted night rides
A new arrangement between Ohio State University and ride-hailing giant Lyft provides student discounts for rides between 9pm and 3am daily.
The late-night travel service is a safety initiative offered by the university, and was mooted as a replacement to the previous university-run Safe Ride programme.
According to Ohio State spokesman Dan Hedman, Safe Ride had to be replaced when demand outgrew capacity following an increase in the number of students living on-campus.
He noted in The Lantern that Safe Ride could only offer around 2,000 rides at any given month. Lyft, on the other hand, would be able to provide at least five times that. Additionally, students are already familiar with the service.
According to an announcement on the university’s website, the Lyft Ride Smart service at Ohio State officially launched on August 1.
It will operate the same routes as Safe Ride, specifically, North to Hudson Street, south to Fifth Avenue, east to Conrail railroad tracks, and west to North Star Road. The north boundary west of Olentangy River Road is Ackerman Road.
Through the service, Ohio State is offering up to 10,000 student discounts per month on a first-come, first-serve basis during the hours of operation.
The school will contribute US$5 per ride while the remainder will be paid by the rider. The average cost is expected to be around US$2 or less.
“This new service offering is a direct result of our work with the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and adds a transportation option our students have been requesting for years,” said Beth Snoke, director of Transportation and Traffic Management.
“The new program will reduce wait times and allow Ohio State to serve a larger portion of our student population,” she added.
Once the 10,000-ride allotment is exhausted, Lyft’s regular rates will apply for the remainder of the month before it is reset for the following month. Prices may also be impacted by distance, traffic, time of day, special events and prime time rates.
To qualify for the discounts, users must select “shared ride” when booking using the Lyft app. They can only use the service when the pick-up and drop-off points are within the designated area. Rides can also be shared with students nearby who are requesting for the service.
Commenting on the arrangement, USG President Kate Greer said: “We [USG] believe this partnership provides students with a service-model that reflects their common means of transportation. This resource will make ridesharing more accessible, and we really encourage all students to save their subsidised rides for situations when they feel unsafe walking home in the areas around campus.”
With safety a top concern of the school, the university has issued an advisory to students requesting that they always follow the vehicle on GPS via the app, make sure the number plate on the app matches the driver’s plate, and to always request that the driver reveal who they are picking up.
Hedman also notes that although any driver can service the Lyft Ride Smart area, the firm as a policy requires that all its drivers pass background checks every 12 months.
“I know we’ve been in conversations with Lyft, and they have, the same as us, safety as a top priority. They’re always looking at ways to make the program safer.
“Our biggest thing is making sure that folks use it responsibly and understand how to use it and understand the precautions they should take.”
This isn’t Lyft’s first or only partnership with a university. The firm is also reportedly working with University of Southern California, the University of Texas at Austin and Johns Hopkins University, among others.