Uber is a private taxi service that has recently gained momentum at Quinnipiac as a new means for student transportation – one that Public Safety is not allowing students to use.
Despite a website that advertises convenience and over five million downloads on Amazon and Apple’s app-stores, according to their two websites, Public Safety has advised the company not to pick up students on campus due to safety precautions.
Chief of Public Safety David Barger believes the fact that the company’s national independence from taxi companies regulated by Connecticut state taxi laws is enough to raise concern.
“What it comes down to it, under Connecticut state law,… [state taxi drivers] basically need a taxi license, an endorsement and a background check,” Barger said.
The state taxicabs themselves, like the drivers, also have to pass a background check to be able to serve the public.
“Heat, air conditioning, all that type of thing, ensures a [state] taxi license, plus you have to have a meter in the taxi,” Barger said. “Uber right now, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t [require] any of that.”
Uber is a private company, meaning that CT taxi laws and regulations do not apply to them.
“Basically you’re in a private vehicle–they have no endorsement to additional insurance. You really don’t know who’s driving you,” Barger said.
The company, founded in 2009, is “evolving the way the world moves… seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through apps,” according to its website.
With a smartphone and the free Uber app, a passenger can set a route, find an available Uber driver in their area and see estimates on arrival times and fare quotes, which the company says is “often cheaper” than a state taxi.
Jennifer Wank, a senior physical therapy major, said if she did not have her car on campus, then she would definitely consider using Uber.
“I think it’s pretty cool, because now people on campus without a car can just bring up the app,” Wank said. “Sometimes the shuttle takes forever and isn’t as reliable as [people] say it is.”
Reed Kramer, a freshman journalism major who has the Uber app on his iPhone, also feels that the service is a great idea.
“It’s really easy to use, you just create an account and you can even link your credit card,” Kramer said. “The driver will be able to track your phone and will contact you upon arrival. It’s easy and seems pretty reliable as well as reputable.”
Although he understands public safety’s policy preventing Uber’s service on campus, Wank still approves of the independently owned transportation company.
“[Public Safety is] here to ensure our safety, so if they aren’t approving of it I guess there’s reason,” Wank said. “If I heard people using it and were fine, though, I would.”
Kramer disagrees with the policy, and believes in the company’s reputation, particularly because the app was originally shown to him by his parents.
“My parents gave me the idea,” he said. “I believe my dad has even used it…If they are encouraging me to use it if needed, then it is definitely a safe and reliable service.”
Barger, however, assures that at this point in time Uber will be told to remain away from Quinnipiac, at least until Public Safety had a possible clarification of the company’s regulations from the state.
“I would ask [students in disagreement] to consider the safety and security aspect of utilizing Uber,” he said. “[Connecticut] clearly articulates what the requirements are to be a ‘taxi.’”