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Notre Dame allows Uber to drive on campus

| Monday, September 19, 2016

This semester, more travel options are available for students looking for a ride. Following a pilot program last year, Uber is now officially allowed on campus, according to Notre Dame Security Police chief Keri Kei Shibata.

Previously, Uber drivers could only pick up students at public access points, like main circle and library circle. Now, they are treated the same as cab drivers and allowed to go directly to student dorms and other locations on campus to pick up students.

Shibata said the newness of Uber as a service for students was a red flag for the administration, so they wanted to take a close look at it before fully approving it. After the success of pilot program during the spring semester of 2016, Shibata said Uber proved it should be treated the same as cabs.

“It’s just a new program, and we weren’t sure what the impact might be,” she said. “And so we allowed them to come on campus and closely monitored to make sure there weren’t any problems.”

The rationale for slowly introducing Uber was more about practical than safety concerns, Shibata said.

“It was partially for security and partially because space is limited on campus, and we weren’t sure how large the demand would be,” she said.

Shibata said the University allows all cabs licensed by the city of South Bend to access campus and pick up passengers.

“If there were any companies we had continuing problems with, we would restrict their access,” she said. “But so far, there haven’t been any.”

The rise of Uber has led to some students taking on roles as drivers. Off-campus junior David Connelly said he started driving for Uber after an upperclassmen recommended he try it.

“I just drive whenever I’m not too busy, and it’s a good way to make money for study abroad,” he said.

While Uber has increased in popularity, Shibata said cabs still remain the most frequent choice for students and can sometimes lead to safety issues because they often cram in more students than they have seats for.

“There are some forms of vehicles that are exempt from having a seat belt in every position,” she said.“But regardless, it’s not safe for there to be more passengers than there are seats.”

While this practice is not illegal under Indiana State law — which exempts cabs from seat belt requirements, along with other public transportations like buses — Shibata said NDSP wants to discourage this potentially dangerous practice. Because Notre Dame is private property and NDSP is a private police force, cabs can be pulled over and targeted for overcrowding when on Notre Dame’s campus.

“When they’re on campus, we have the ability to say that’s not acceptable,” she said.

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