Lehigh University’s Parking Services has partnered with LYFT to provide students with free rides to and from Building C on Mountaintop Campus and other campus locations.
Last March, Lehigh made changes to its transportation services by eliminating TRACS and Mountaintop Express routes. Students on campus have adjusted their commutes to class, but those taking courses or working on Mountaintop Campus are impacted by the changing system because of the bus schedule.
“We just asked LYFT if this is something that they do, and they did do it for other schools, so that’s how it all started,” Parking Services manager Sharon Kay Field said.
Field first reached out to the art, architecture and design department in August in order to communicate information about the new LYFT program to the students.
Students are able to get one code per month, per person, and the code is used as the payment. This service is only available for art, architecture and design students.
“The ride must either start or end at Building C, and the code is valid Monday to Friday from 2:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., and on weekends from 2:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. when the bus service isn’t running,” Field said.
In September, Field said only one student requested a LYFT code, but the student did not actually call any LYFTs.
This month, three codes were issued to students, but Field said she is still waiting for the October data to see if anyone utilized the service.
Field said Parking Services is using the ridership statistics for the LYFT program to see if enough students are taking rides to require a bus service during off-hours.
Though the lack of data from September does not seem to justify extending the bus service hours at this point, Field said the Connections team will review data from October, November and December before making any decisions.
Anna Chupa, professor and chair of the department of art, architecture and design, said she knows of the partnership from a sign in the department’s computer lab that informs the students it’s available to them, and gives them instructions on how to request a ride.
“I have mixed feelings,” Chupa said. “I think it’s important that the university make arrangements for students to get transportation for late hours because our students, in particular, do work late hours on their projects, and they need to be able to work in the studio. The scale of architecture projects is such that it’s impractical for somebody to work on a model in a dorm or apartment.”
Chupa said she does believe Mountaintop lacks transportation, and this partnership was an attempt to help alleviate the problem for students.
On the other hand, Chupa said she would feel more at ease if there were Lehigh vans picking up and dropping off students at Mountaintop.
She said safety may be a concern because she is unclear what the protocols are to become a LYFT driver.
Sophy Feldman, ‘21, an architecture major, has classes five days a week, all on Mountaintop Campus. She said she would be uncomfortable taking a ride from a LYFT service during such early hours.
“The bus takes 40 minutes because if you take it from Farrington, you go all the way to South Side, then you go to Atlas, then you go to Iacocca, so it’s just a huge waste of time,” Feldman said.