Students can travel anywhere within a five-mile radius from campus for a flat rate of $5.99 starting Thursday.
To use the service, students will need to register or update their Uber accounts with their UCLA emails and apply a promotion code, which is available on the UCLA Transportation website and will also be sent out to students through a campuswide email, said David Karwaski, senior associate director of UCLA Transportation. UCLA Transportation and uberPOOL launched the new service as a 90-day pilot program.
Karwaski said the service is meant to increase carpooling and make commuting easier for students, faculty and staff. He added UCLA Transportation chose to collaborate with uberPOOL over uberX because it will minimize the number of cars driven to campus and may help reduce demand for parking spaces on campus. UberX provides users with a private ride to their location, while uberPOOL matches users that are headed toward the same direction and lets them share the cost.
Students can request an uberPOOL pick-up and drop-off at any location within five miles from the center of campus. Karwaski said the flat rate will be available for rides between $6 and $15, and rides more than $15 will have the cost added onto the flat rate. For example, a $16 ride would cost $6.99.
“That sort of gives you a comfort about surge prices in particular, because normally prices can float around a little bit and having a flat rate gives some peace of mind to commuters,” he said.
Karwaski added that UCLA Transportation will evaluate whether to continue the partnership with Uber following the conclusion of the pilot program.
Aaron Boudaie, the Undergraduate Students Association Council’s Financial Supports commissioner, said the new service aims to make it easier for students to get around Westwood.
“I think it’s also going to be good for all students in general, because they’re going to see more and more people willing to hang out in Westwood,” he said.
Boudaie said he thinks the program will help students who previously may not have been able to use Uber due to financial reasons.
“It’s relevant to campus safety. … For example, if you’re out late at night and you want to get back to your dorm or apartment, or if you’re a commuter who lives nearby and you want to go back home, you won’t have to hesitate before calling an Uber,” he said.
USAC Facilities Commissioner Zahra Hajee said she thinks the pilot program’s success will depend on how well UCLA Transportation informs students about the program.
Hajee said the USAC president’s office plans to spread the word to students by sending out campus-wide emails, advertising on social media and letting other campus organizations know about the program.
Hajee said she thinks UCLA Transportation may collaborate with other services, such as Lyft, if students actively use the program.
Several students said that they think the new flat rate would help them get around the Westwood area more conveniently.
Neel Patel, a fifth-year geophysics student, said he thinks the flat rate would be helpful to him if he needs to go farther away from campus. He added he probably would not benefit from the service since it usually costs him about $3 to go to campus from his apartment.
“I think it would be helpful if I’m going somewhere south of Wilshire to study or get groceries,” he said, “But coming to campus, not really.”
Bella Rico, a first-year English student, said she thinks the flat rate would make it safer for her to work late at night.
“That would be really beneficial because I work in Westwood, and sometimes don’t want to work nights because I don’t want to walk back in the dark,” she said.