Paula Pineda

Yalies heading home for Thanksgiving break will no longer need to search for companions to split Uber and Lyft fares to nearby transportation hubs.

In an email to students on Nov. 13, the Yale College Council announced a new initiative to compile students’ Thanksgiving break travel information and encourage ride sharing to reduce both costs and carbon emissions. Organized primarily by YCC University Services Director Alaies Bahri ’22 and Timothy Dwight College Sustainability Liaison Katrina Starbird ’22, the service seeks to increase shared rides to New Haven Union Station, Bradley International Airport and New Haven Tweed Airport. Through a form included in the email, students can provide their travel plans, which were made available to other participating students via an Excel spreadsheet. Students can then contact each other to individually coordinate rides.

“This initiative … fits into the … YCC’s goal of lowering the ‘hidden costs’ of Yale, which includes the price of transportation,” YCC President Kahlil Greene ’21 wrote in an email to the News. “Some students have to spend hundreds of dollars just to see their families over breaks. We hope to alleviate some of that burden.”

Prior to the program’s establishment, students organized shared rides with their friends or through the “Yale University Rideshare Group” Facebook page. While the program may make finding shared rides easier, many students have continued to post in the group, searching for people to split the costs of Uber or Lyft rides.

The email sent to the student body acknowledged the low level of information security associated with the service. Consequently, the YCC recommended that anyone who feels uncomfortable with the publication of their travel details should “seek out other ways to share a ride and reduce your carbon footprint.”

“We did briefly consider grouping students, but wanted to offer users the flexibility and autonomy of choosing who to coordinate their rides with,” Bahri said.

According to Bahri, almost 150 students entered their information to participate in the program.

While a Yale Shuttle already travels to Union Station, Bahri and Starbird said they still included it on the list of destinations because the shuttle does not provide 24/7 transportation to the station. Bahri added that the shuttle’s hours and routes will be shared with participating students to prevent the use of a shared ride “when a shuttle could be used instead.”

Starbird added that the YCC is also considering other ways — such as creating a separate website — to publish the compiled travel information. Although a prototype could not be available in time for Thanksgiving break, Starbird said she hopes that a more user-friendly option will be made available in the future.

Starbird said that when student leaders in the Sustainability Office graduate, the projects they spearheaded often disappear.

“The goal with this is to hopefully make something like CourseTable in which it’s a tool that students use that doesn’t really require us to go through and sort all of the information and get it back out — to make something that lasts longer than ourselves that would be useful for students,” she said.

According to Starbird, she and Bahri each came to the idea independently and began collaborating approximately one month ago.

 

Ako Ndefo-Haven | ako.ndefo-haven@yale.edu