Staff editorial: Uber service further improved due to student requests

Following a string of violent crime in the neighborhoods around Washington University, administrators announced a partnership with Uber to provide free rides to students for the fall semester. In an email to students, Executive Vice Chancellor Hank Webber marketed the partnership as a temporary campus-to-home transportation service for students living off campus. Among the details included, the University announced plans to cover the cost of all trips starting on Danforth Campus and ending within a restricted—but encouragingly substantial—boundary that encompasses the neighborhoods around the University. If students requested an out of range destination the school will cover the cost of the trip up until the edge of the boundary, upon which the rest of the payment will be charged to students’ personal Uber accounts.

However, many who received the initial email realized (upon calling an Uber after 12 a.m. on Saturday) that the service will only be offered on weekdays, a detail left out of Webber’s email and the subsequent sign-up information distributed by Uber. After frustrated students requested that the service be extended to weekends—many students have exams, student group meetings or performances to attend on Saturdays and Sundays, often late at night—the University now plans to offer two free rides per student per day, seven days per week, that must begin or end on the Danforth Campus. Notably, this change allows students to commute both to and from school, not just from school to home as previously announced.

Given that all (except one) of the recent incidents occurred on weekends and after 7:30 p.m., the change to include weekends and make the rides round-trip are much-needed and appreciated alterations to the service. Now students who have a late-night practice won’t be forced to walk to campus with only the opportunity of having a free ride home. It’s refreshing to see the University respond to recommendations so quickly, especially given the reactionary nature of this new program. We hope to see the communication between the University and students become more streamlined but feel encouraged by the monetary steps taken to address student safety while commuting, given the recent circumstances.

One thing to note is that as of now the University will not be covering riders’ tips to their drivers. We hope this will be addressed in the future and the University will cover this expense. In the meantime, keep in mind that this part of ride is not covered. We encourage students to cover it using their personal funds if they have the means to do so.

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