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RamRide substitutes volunteer model with Lyft partnership

All Colorado State University students have up to four discounted rides a month from Lyft this semester thanks to a RamRide partnership with the ride-hailing service.

With COVID-19 nullifying RamRide’s traditional student volunteer model, this partnership still puts student fees toward giving students safe rides to where they need to go, said Lindsay Mason, director of Off-Campus Life

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“I feel really confident that we’re offering a great service that’s of high value and good use of students’ fees,” Mason said. 

Students should have received an email from Lyft with a link to use a discount pass. Once activated, students anywhere in the U.S. can receive a 50% discount up to $10 on up to four standard Lyft or Lyft XL rides per month.

For reference, a standard Lyft ride from Lory Student Center to Front Range Community College costs $9 to $12, according to Lyft’s fare estimator.

The discount runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. It will go through Dec. 19 and be available during fall break and remote learning. 

All of this is separate from RamRide Food-Ops, which is driven by student employees.

“I feel really confident that we’re offering a great service that’s of high value and good use of students’ fees.”-Lindsay Mason, director of Off-Campus Life

The hours and locations of the Lyft model are a significant expansion compared to RamRide’s old model, which recruited student volunteers to give free rides within Fort Collins. But financially speaking, the rides with Lyft are only subsidized, and students will have to pay the remaining charge themselves. 

This semester, RamRide is allocating $100,000 toward those discounted rides, according to RamRide’s website. Each month has a set limit of funds to ensure the money will not run out by the end of the year, and unused funds will roll over to the next month, Mason said.

If the funds are all spent for one month, students will have to pay full price for rides until the next. This is why students are not guaranteed four discounted rides each month.

But because the partnership took longer to launch than expected, RamRide is not as concerned about running out of funds and they intend on spending all $100,000 this semester, Mason said.

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“In a contract with this much money, this big of a private company, I’m glad we were thorough (enough) to make sure that we’ve got the best contract that’s going to best serve CSU students,” Mason said. “So it did take a little bit longer, but I think we’ve got the best product in the end.”

RamRide is 98% student fee funded. A full-time student this year pays $6.96 per semester for RamRide while part-time students pay $2.92, Mason said.

Under COVID-19 health precautions, RamRide would have had to change their traditional driver-navigator model to only have one driver and one passenger at a time. They decided this was not a good use of fee money, Mason said. Instead, they looked into a ride-hailing partnership, already used by several universities across the country, and ultimately decided on Lyft.

Lyft has their own set of COVID-19 health guidelines in place, including providing cleaning supplies and masks for drivers and mandatory mask-wearing for everyone in the car. 

The permanence of their CSU partnership is yet to be seen.

RamRide’s website states they will “continue this model for as long as health concerns remain and/or if students prefer this model and prefer it over the original model.”

While Mason said there are pros and cons to both models, she noted Lyft suffers the major loss of fundraising opportunities for student organizations who used to volunteer for driving.

“RamRide traditionally gives about $60,000 back to student organizations, which I love,” Mason said. “It means our student fee has a huge ripple effect.”

Mason said she’s open to what students want. RamRide will likely be doing an end-of-semester survey, plus students can email feedback to student employee Jose Hernandez Albarado. 

“I think a lot of students just assumed RamRide just wasn’t running (this semester),” Mason said. “So I think it’s hopefully, if nothing else, a pleasant surprise that we’ve been working on this.”

Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.

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