UCLA to implement designated pickup areas for Uber, Lyft during weekdays
By Jacob Preal
Sep. 29, 2017 1:23 am
Students will have to go to designated locations on campus before requesting an Uber or Lyft ride, starting Monday.
UCLA Transportation has partnered with Uber and Lyft to create designated pickup zones at 12 locations on campus, according to its website. When students log into Uber or Lyft on campus, the mobile applications will only allow them to select a pickup location at one of the designated stops, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.
Outside of this time frame, students can get picked up anywhere on campus. Students can also still be dropped off at any location on campus, as long as they obey traffic laws.
David Karwaski, senior associate director of UCLA Transportation, said his office decided to create the zones because Uber and Lyft drivers often pick up students in dangerous locations, including no-parking zones, creating a safety hazard.
“You would see something like someone getting dropped off right in the middle of traffic,” he said. “Or vehicles picking up someone at a BruinBus stop.”
Karwaski said he thinks the zones are close enough to campus landmarks that students can walk to at least one of them in five minutes from anywhere on campus.
Penny Menton, director of communications for UCLA Transportation, said she thinks designated ride-hailing zones are becoming more common and will prevent drivers from picking up students in dangerous locations on campus.
“Uber and Lyft and other services have been moving toward these types of pickup policy and organization everywhere, not just at UCLA,” she said.
Menton added UCLA Transportation solicited input from student government leaders when creating the zones.
However, some student leaders were critical of the new policy.
Zahra Hajee, undergraduate student government facilities commissioner, said she is concerned that it will be difficult for students with disabilities to get around if they cannot call an Uber from any roadway.
Karwaski said he thinks students with disabilities do not need access to Uber and Lyft for on-campus destinations because the UCLA Center for Accessible Education already provides a van service to shuttle students around campus. He added students could take the van service to the ride-hailing zones, where they could then call an Uber or Lyft for off-campus destinations.
Lily Shaw, a second-year political science and international development studies student, said students with disabilities will not be able to take the van service to the ride-hailing zones because the service can only take passengers to locations for academic purposes. She said the CAE is strict about what constitutes an academic purpose, which means students may struggle to travel off campus, she said.
“Anyone with mobility issues needs to get to these locations by their own means,” Shaw said. “This is definitely not ideal.”
Shaw, who uses a power wheelchair, said she has an internship in Venice and knows of many other students with disabilities who need to leave campus for their jobs. While students with disabilities may still be able to access Uber and Lyft, Shaw said she thinks the zones make it more difficult for her to plan her day when she needs to leave campus.
“I don’t think they are taking into consideration students’ day-to-day schedules,” she said.
Hajee said she thinks UCLA Transportation should have been more transparent with students while creating the new policy.
For example, Hajee said she was unaware the new policy would start as soon as Monday and did not see any sign around campus to mark the new stops. She added UCLA Transportation should have provided more evidence that the change was needed.
“I want to see concrete data on where these pedestrian and bicyclist complaints are coming from,” she said. “Administrators at Murphy Hall are not the only people on campus.”
UCLA Transportation said in a statement that it was able to verify the level of unsafe activity from Uber and Lyft pickups on campus. The department added it does not directly solicit input on a proposed change and instead conducts field evaluations to assess its viability.
“We frankly didn’t need input to recognize that there was a safety problem with the way these services’ drivers were driving on campus,” the department said in a statement.
Michael Skiles, Graduate Students Association president, said UCLA Transportation initially planned to create fewer, more spaced-out pickup locations when they met earlier in the summer. Skiles added UCLA Transportation also wanted to restrict Uber and Lyft pickup locations at all times and close Portola Plaza to cars to make it a pedestrian-priority zone.
Skiles said UCLA Transportation since increased the number of pickup locations, limited zone hours from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and reduced the number of roadways it would close to cars. Skiles said he understood UCLA Transportation’s desire to prevent traffic congestion and keep students safe by making sure they are not being picked up in the middle of campus streets.
However, Skiles said he does not fully support the change because he thinks the zones make it more difficult for students to get around campus.
“If you really wanted to cut down on student Uber usage, you should make the campus more accessible, not less accessible,” he said.