In the five days before class, many Yale students returning to New Haven through Union Station used a 50 percent discount on their Lyft ride to campus thanks to the Yale College Council.

The deal between YCC and Lyft included 1,000 rides for students and had a maximum $8 discount per ride. The covered area included all 14 of Yale’s residential colleges as well as neighborhoods in Downtown New Haven and East Rock. YCC and Lyft have collaborated three times since the start of the academic year.

“What I noticed is a lot of [YCC’s] different projects are roadblocked by Yale’s bureaucracy, so there are a lot of steps you have to do to get anything approved,” said Kahlil Greene ’21, YCC finance director. “Going into this year, one thing [YCC President Saloni Rao ’20] and I wanted to really do was to find creative ways of using what the YCC has at hand to go about funding change, independent of getting a bunch of approvals from the administration.”

In August, the YCC announced in an email that all students had received a back-to-school $10 ride credit to use on any ride to or from campus during the fall semester after Lyft representatives reached out with interest in collaborating with Yale’s student government. The ride service app had already partnered with several other schools, including Harvard. YCC and Lyft later offered a 10 percent discount on rides to Fenway Park from Harvard’s campus along with specific tips for using the service around Boston during the weekend of The Game.

In an effort to urge the Yale administration to enhance its transportation options, YCC hopes its partnership with Lyft will demonstrate the student demand for better, safer transportation options around New Haven, Greene said. Rather than a replacement for the existing shuttle and door-to-door services offered by Yale, YCC sees the Lyft discount as a supplement. For example, for students arriving late at night to Union Station, Lyft provides a safer and easier way to get back to campus, he added.

“YCC’s partnering with Lyft definitely increased student access to reliable transportation. It’s a great initiative,” praised Lauren Lautermilch ’22.

But the Lyft partnership is just one of YCC’s several new projects to give discounts directly to students.

“In a very large sense, our business team, under Kahlil’s leadership, is very different than it was in previous years. They’ve been branching out to seek out national and local partnerships with organizations in order to provide more services to Yale students,” said Rao.

Greene’s business team includes two sponsorship coordinators, who are responsible for finding national and local partnerships. Other national partnerships already negotiated by the YCC include deals with Red Bull and Vengo Labs, the brand behind the wellness to-go vending machine in the Good Life Center. Locally, YCC maintains a relationship with the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, in order to promote Yale student interaction with New Haven’s arts community.

Additionally, the business team has compiled a sponsorship document to give to companies interested in working with the YCC. The document, shared with the News by Greene, includes what the YCC can offer to companies, such as a kick-off event, as well as three levels of sponsorship packages: $10,000+, $5,000–$9,999 and $1,000–$4,999. According to Rao and Greene, more sponsorship deals are in the works, including a longer-term relationship with Lyft.

“By making these corporate deals that impact many students, YCC is showing that it cares and that it is working to enact policies that directly help students,” said Karen Li ’22, first-year Class Council representative from Pauli Murray College.

The YCC was established in 1972.

Jose Davila IV | jose.davilaiv@yale.edu

JOSE DAVILA IV
Jose Davila currently serves as a Managing Editor of the Yale Daily News. He previously covered Yale-New Haven Relations as a staff reporter. He is a junior in Morse College majoring in Global Affairs.