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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

    Uber is not the safest option for students

    Illustration by Devon Crew

    When planning for a night on The Square, “How are we going to get there?” is probably the first question to be asked. The reply is usually simple, “Let’s just call an Uber!”

    Finding transportation as a college student can be challenging and looks different for everyone. Many Bobcats choose Uber as a solution to this issue. Unfortunately, Uber hasn’t proven to be the safest or most reliable option.

    The cost of consistently ordering Ubers adds up quickly, and many users have reported being frequently subjected to uncomfortable situations when using the ride-hailing app. Luckily, Texas State and the city of San Marcos offer a few helpful alternatives, but, these resources deserve more funding.

    According to businessofapps.com, 131 million people, 25% of the U.S. population, use Uber or Uber Eats at least once a month. Calling an Uber is a dependable way to ensure no one will be driving under the influence and it’s often more reliable than choosing a designated driver. Uber allows people to plan ahead and be responsible.

    Unfortunately, despite efforts to be safe, innumerable riders have experienced unwanted sexual advances or uncomfortable conversations while being passengers. In its U.S. Safety Report, Uber reported 6,000 sexual assaults over two years between 2019 and 2020. Though the number is relatively low compared to the amount of Ubers taken every year, it still contributes significantly to the national average.

    Aside from instances of sexual assault, taking an Uber is notorious for uncomfortable or creepy experiences. The feeling of unease in Uber rides has become so widespread that a trend on TikTok to create “audios” people can use if they ever felt threatened went viral.

    Some of the audios are serious, while others make light of the situation. The TikToks often pretend the rider is on the phone with someone intimidating or someone proclaiming loudly that the passenger’s location is being shared and monitored. Because there is no way for Uber to conduct detailed, in-person background checks on all drivers, each ride poses a unique risk to the passenger.

    Kaitlin Hyder, a San Marcos resident, uses Uber frequently to get to work. On one occasion, she said her Uber was involved in a highway collision. Hyder was not harmed, but her driver forcefully insisted she shouldn’t report the incident and refused to cancel the ride, leaving her unable to get her money back. This is just one example of passengers being taken advantage of.

    “[The driver] said, ‘Get out of the car. I can’t let the other drivers know I was in an accident,'” Hyder said. “I was so startled and I didn’t know how to say ‘no’, so I went along with it.”

    According to the Uber website, the average cost between an UberX, Comfort and ComfortElectric for a three-and-a-half-mile drive at 11:00 p.m. is $13.25. If a student were to take just three Ubers a month the total cost would be close to $40. Over the course of a year, the price could exceed $500. However, Bobcats don’t have to pay a cent for services such as NiteCats or Bobcat shuttles.

    NiteCats is a Texas State service that operates from 8:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Sundays. NiteCats offers rides anywhere on campus.

    To use NiteCats, students can download the TXST NiteCats app on the App Store or Google Play Store, enter their student information and schedule a ride from wherever they are on campus to any other on campus location.

    The Bobcat Shuttle system also has a mobile app for convenient access to bus schedules and bus stop locations. No student ID or fare is required to ride the shuttles, meaning anyone can utilize this service. Buses run during the week at various times. The latest route, route 10 to Bobcat Stadium, runs from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., except on Fridays when it runs until 5:30 p.m.

    One of the best transportation services available to Texas State students is the free taxi service provided by the city of San Marcos called Get Around Downtown. But, due to a lack of funding, Feb. 29 is the last day to take advantage of this free taxi service.

    Get Around Downtown currently runs from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. in downtown San Marcos. Get Around Downtown is not only convenient but also eco-friendly, as all of the taxis are 100% electric and can carry up to five passengers at a time.

    Since its launch in November 2022, the shuttle service has completed over 16,000 rides, saving passengers time and money and providing safer transportation. Get Around Downtown offers something unique to the community, and it shouldn’t be taken away.

    Services such as NiteCats and Get Around Downtown must be properly invested in so they can remain available to Texas State students and San Marcos residents. These demographics should not have to depend on ride-hailing apps such as Uber, which comes at a steep price and often subjects users to discomfort.

    -Maddie Hanraads is a journalism junior

    The University Star welcomes Letters to the Editor from its readers. All submissions are reviewed and considered by the Editor in Chief and Opinions Editor for publication. Not all letters are guaranteed for publication.

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