Sarah Frankel stepped out of a Chevrolet Equinox holding an iced coffee. It was sunny and surprisingly hot after days of chilly weather.
The car quickly reversed and sped off toward Hendricks Chapel.
“I’m late for a meeting,” Frankel said as she stepped on the curb. The sophomore child and family studies major had just taken an Uber from Marshall Street’s Starbucks to the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. She needed to see an adviser.
The trip from the coffee shop was not even half a mile. But Frankel had no intention of walking up the hill near Crouse College.
“It was $7.35,” she said. “You order it and it’s here in two, three minutes.”
For years, popular ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft have operated in the greater New York City area. Until this summer, though, they were banned upstate.
Now, as the transportation apps expand into central New York, ride-hailing companies are changing how Syracuse University students travel both on- and off-campus. Frankel is just one example.
In the last two weeks, The Daily Orange has interviewed more than 100 SU students about Uber and Lyft in Syracuse.
Based off those interviews, a few key findings on ride-hailing services’ impact on SU students are already apparent:
- Dozens of students use or plan to use Uber to go out to bars and fraternities. “You don’t even anticipate needing to drive ‘cause Uber’s there,” said Courtney Darling, a sophomore biology and neurology double major.
- Most students interviewed by The D.O. have not used Lyft in Syracuse. Only six students said they prefer Lyft over Uber. A few had never heard of Lyft.
- More than one-third of the interviewed students plan to use ride-hailing services in downtown Syracuse to go to restaurants and explore Armory Square. Karyn Korteling, owner of Pastabilities off Franklin Street, said kids are constantly getting out of Ubers downtown.
- In addition to Frankel, a handful of mostly freshmen and sophomores said they might use ride-hailing services to get to class, if running late. Frankel lives a block from Main Campus at Walnut Hall. A few students, frustrated with the South Campus bus, have used Uber to get to Main Campus.
Some students also said they use ride-hailing for trips to the Syracuse Hancock International Airport or William F. Walsh Regional Transportation Center.
Others use ride-hailing to get to work. Tyler King, a senior business management and real estate double major, takes Uber to his job at a Costco Wholesale near Camillus.
Chanez Meghezzi, a graduate student from Algeria who studies linguistics, “Ubers” to her job at a DeWitt beauty salon. Meghezzi uses the ride-hailing service three times a week.
“It’s much cheaper.”
“It’s so cheap.”
“Honestly, it’s just cheaper.”
Students unknowingly echoed each other in dozens of interviews. A majority of students said Uber is quicker and cheaper than Syracuse taxi cabs.
Mimi Delega, a sophomore bioengineering major, said she prefers Uber because using credit or debit cards is encouraged. Cab drivers sometimes prefer cash, she added. Delega rarely carries cash.
Syracuse taxi companies have traditionally been unreliable, said Charles Keppler, a senior aerospace engineering major. Ride-hailing services are more convenient, he said.
Mark Ilacqua, president of Suburban Taxi, declined to comment for this article.
Price surges are the only downside to Uber, a few students said. Ride requests flood in to a limited number of drivers, inflating costs.
Julia Kelly, a freshman broadcast and digital journalism major, split a $20 fare with friends to go to the Great New York State Fair at the beginning of the school year. Heading back to campus, though, after Migos headlined Chevy Court, an Uber would have cost the group almost $120.
“It was a disaster,” she said. Her friends called a taxi.
But most students said the positives of ride-hailing services outweigh potential negatives. There are tangible benefits, students said.
Kelly Callahan, a senior public relations and Spanish dual major, uses Uber to get home from bars after happy hour. Uber and Lyft give students a better option for driving safe, Callahan and others said.
“It definitely gives me more peace of mind,” she said.
Published on September 13, 2017 at 10:20 pm
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