USC Transportation announced a new pilot program with Uber Thursday to supplement the Campus Cruiser program and reduce wait times during peak periods.
The program will be available for the spring semester Thursday through Saturday nights from 8 p.m. until midnight, the busiest hours for Campus Cruiser. The service can only be used when wait times for Campus Cruiser exceed 15 minutes, and Campus Cruiser dispatchers will direct students to the free service when necessary. The rides provided by Cruiser will continue as usual.
“USC already offers a range of transportation choices for students to get around the university area, including regular shuttles, ZipCars and Campus Cruiser,” Director of Transportation Tony Mazza said in a statement. “Some students already use Uber, as well, to supplement their transportation options. The four-month service trial with Uber is expected to decrease student wait times during periods of highest demand, using a familiar option that is easily accessible. We will evaluate this pilot program at the end of the trial period and consider our options.”
Trips that remain inside of Campus Cruiser’s boundaries will be automatically paid for by USC, but students must request the new service by clicking the “USC” button on the Uber application. Trips that begin or end outside of the boundaries of Campus Cruiser will be charged to the user’s account. The USC button will only appear on the application during the program’s hours of operation and when the user is within the boundaries of Campus Cruiser.
USG Director of University Affairs Jordan Fowler and her committee have been working with the administration, particularly USC Transportation, to implement the new program since last summer.
“At the beginning of the summer, my team and I brainstormed this idea as University Affairs within USG,” Fowler said. “Transportation also had plans to revise Campus Cruiser, so we were able to really help place precedence on the issue.”
Long wait times for Campus Cruiser have been a prominent concern at both student and administrative levels. The new partnership with Uber primarily stemmed from an effort to increase student safety both on and around campus.
“President Nikias was really strict in saying that he wanted all the Campus Cruiser calls to have a 15-minute wait time at the very maximum, especially given what happened this summer, so that has really been the main goal,” Fowler said.
Students with USC IDs can be dropped off inside of campus after 8 p.m. However, Uber vehicles will not be able to enter campus to pick students up. Instead, students should meet Uber vehicles outside of campus to be picked up at Entrances 3, 4 or 6, or at the bus turnaround at Jefferson and Trousdale.
Students can access the service through Uber’s mobile application using the promotional code “USC2015.” This code will unlock the USC button on the app. New Uber users can also access the app at uber.com/GO/USC2015. The university will not reimburse rides that are not requested through the USC button.
Since the new program is only a trial for the spring 2015 semester, USC Transportation and USG will both be relying on student feedback to gauge the efficacy of the program and determine areas of improvement.
Students can also submit feedback directly to USC Transportation or to USG. Additional information about the program can be found on Campus Cruiser’s website.
“USC Transportation is a department that really cares about students, and they are really always looking for student feedback, so feedback is definitely going to be crucial to make this better,” Fowler said.