The rideshare service Uber was banned at Quinnipiac University last week, sparking questions in the Yale community over the service’s practices and safety.
According to the Quinnipiac Chronicle, University Public Safety officials said they decided to ban Uber on campus because they concluded that the service does not abide by Connecticut taxi laws and regulations. In the article, Chief of Public Safety David Barger specifically cited lack of thorough background checks of drivers as one of the reasons for the ban.
Yale Public Safety declined to comment on the issue and has not released a statement regarding Uber’s presence on Yale’s campus.
“[Public Safety is] here to ensure our safety, so if they aren’t approving of it, I guess there’s reason,” Jennifer Wank, a senior at Quinnipiac, said in the article. “If I heard people were using it and were fine, though, I would.”
Northeast regional Uber representatives did not return requests for comment on the issue. But, in a September article responding to Uber’s debut in College Station, Texas, Uber Regional Expansion General Manager Pooneet Kant stressed that the service provides a safe and affordable transit option for students on college campuses.
“We have an industry leading insurance policy,” Kant said. “It’s a $1 million policy that covers riders whenever they’re riding in an Uber trip.”
According to Uber’s website, each driver undergoes a background check process that includes county, multi-state and federal checks going back seven years, historical and ongoing motor vehicle checks, a national sex offender registry screen and social security trace.
In September, certificates for free Uber ride were placed in the P.O. boxes of Yale students as part of the campus advertising campaign. Since then, students interviewed who have used Uber expressed mixed feelings on the service’s presence on campus.
Julia Rosenheim ’16 said she took her friend to a hospital in an Uber because a taxi took too long to arrive. She added that she thought the app’s driver rating system incentivized good driving.
After every trip, Uber riders can rate drivers and provide feedback.
But other students said they had less positive experiences.
“There’s no vetting process — so, I don’t feel safe,” Alero Egbe ’17 said. “They only do one background check, and I don’t feel that that’s enough. Taxis are organized and have a central authority, and, if I was going somewhere late at night, I would call a taxi.”
Isi Hummel ’17 said that she thinks of Uber as less of a taxi replacement, and more of a system of connecting “a person who can drive safely a car to someone who needs a ride.”
She said that, although she was not fully aware of the company’s structure, she uses the service because of the expedience and reliability of the vehicles.
After Uber’s entry into the New Haven area, the company’s presence has come under fire from local taxi companies, who criticize rideshares for their inaccessibility to disabled people, lack of required vehicle maintenance and insurance and inadequate background checks.
Bill Scalzi, the owner of Metro Taxi, which serves the Greater New Haven and Greater Bridgeport area, said that he feels rideshare services are a threat to student safety.
“I think Quinnipiac certainly made the right choice — they recognized that there is an inherent danger in the way that these are operation,” said Scalzi. “The problem is, there’s no voice in these rideshare companies — there’s no number to call.”
Uber was founded in 2009, and is currently active in over 200 cities worldwide.