Uber policies on campus unclear to students, drivers

Uber+policies+on+campus+unclear+to+students%2C+drivers

Robin Boch, Staff Reporter [email protected]

Students may find that their Uber drivers cannot pick them up in front of their dorms or other buildings, and that these drivers can only meet them in locations designated by the university.  

Director of Transportation Brian Lowe said Tulane began to enforce existing policies that restrict Uber vehicles from driving on campus. These policies aim to reduce the congestion and disturbance that these additional cars create on campus.

In 2014, New Orleans City Council legalized Uber, a hired vehicle service. Lowe said Tulane implemented these rules before Uber began service in New Orleans to address taxicabs driving around campus soliciting fares.

Tulane’s main policy regarding pickups and drop-offs made by Uber, Lyft and comparable services is that until 6 p.m they may only use the official Taxicab & Hired Car Services Zone. This zone is in a marked area at the PJ’s Coffee on the corner of Janet Yulman Way and Willow Street.

After 6 p.m., drivers are allowed to make pickups and drop-offs at other locations on campus. During peak times for these services, such as when students are leaving for breaks or returning back to campus, Tulane expands the official zone to the tennis courts past Willow Residences.

“The reason why we didn’t allow it during the day was that it was really getting out of hand,” Lowe said. “[Uber drivers] would park in metered spots or reserved all-hours spots and we would get complaints from the permit-holders…then, when parking services would investigate it, it would turn out that it’s an Uber driver.”

Despite the fact that this policy has been in place since before Uber was introduced, freshman Jackson Moreno-Field, who uses Uber about three times a week, said he was unaware that these rules exist.

“No, I do not know what their official policy for pickups and drop-offs is,” Moreno-Field said.

The policy is only listed on the Tulane University Transportation website. Moreno-Field said he felt the policy is rarely enforced and Tulane does not advertise it well.

Lowe said the local Uber general manager told Tulane Transportation that drivers would comply with the school’s official policy. Uber driver John Randle said that he was unaware of this policy.

“The only policy I’m aware of is that I should not park where the airport shuttle pulls in by PJ’s, or pull in the driveways of the dormitories on Willow Street,” Randle said.

According to Lowe, the way the policy is enforced will not change unless Uber and Lyft vehicles around campus begin to cause a disturbance.

“[Parking officials] are not actively going out trying to give Uber a hard time … it’s when Uber raises their own red flag by blocking traffic, parking in a spot they shouldn’t be in that catches the attention of parking services,” Lowe said.

Lowe said the administration asks that students and drivers inform themselves about Tulane policies regarding Uber and Lyft by reading the “Taxicab & Hired Car Services Policies” page on the Tulane Transportation website.

Additionally, Tulane Transportation encourages students to use the Gold Zone, a free Tulane service comparable to Uber that allows students to travel between off-campus residences in certain zones and the Tulane campus between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m.