Lyft enables CU Boulder students, faculty, and staff to easily get to off-campus lab
INDUSTRY | HIGHER EDUCATION
Find a safe, convenient, and affordable way to transport students, faculty, and staff to a new research facility located two to three miles from campus.
Provide up to $300 in monthly Lyft credit so lab users can ride at anytime, any day to locations surrounding the lab and specific campus locations.
- CU Boulder estimates $190,000 per year in cost savings compared to buses or vans
- Average monthly usage is 30% higher than expected
- High satisfaction levels among students and faculty alike
- Administration is simple — “set it and forget it” with the help of a quick reference guide for users
Lyft gives university’s lab users more convenient, efficient transportation with ride credits
The University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) is one of only 34 public research universities in the Association for American Universities. Statistics tell a bold story: 3,900 academic courses across 150 fields of study; more than 7,000 degrees awarded annually; first in the world in geosciences; second in the US in atomic, molecular, and optical physics; fifth in environmental law; 10th in aerospace and aeronautical engineering. CU Boulder truly shapes tomorrow’s leaders in many fields.
In 2018, CU Boulder built a $27 million biomedical research facility two to three miles from locations on the main and east campuses. The issue was: how to transport up to 200 faculty, staff, visiting scholars, and students to the new lab.
Public transit options were lacking. There was also no existing university-provided transportation to that area. Traffic would make bicycling difficult and potentially dangerous — especially in severe winter weather.
“Researchers kept asking how students and lab managers would get back and forth,” says Austin Hudmon, Manager of Building Operations at the research facility. “The faculty was hesitant to move into the new lab until we solved the problem.”
“Users need transportation to the lab at all hours, including weekends. Some might make multiple round-trips daily. Having a bus or shuttles running on a schedule would be costly and inefficient. Lyft offered the ideal solution.”
— Clark Rider
Sustainable Transportation Specialist, CU Boulder
CU Boulder had received many positive reviews from other universities who implemented ride credit programs with Lyft Business. The team also felt that Lyft’s focus on sustainability and environmental responsibility closely aligned with the university’s.
“So many of our students, faculty, and staff were already using rideshare in their personal lives that Lyft makes perfect sense. It’s a natural extension for us,” Hudmon notes.
CU Boulder chose to provide lab users with Lyft credit directly to their personal accounts. Users automatically receive up to $300 monthly, and Lyft rides from locations surrounding the lab and campus sites are instantly covered.
Rideshare was popular, right from the start. The most frequent riders take from 10 to 40 Lyft rides each month. Even with usage significantly above forecasts, the service’s flexible features and low cost have allowed the university to easily absorb the higher demand with custom rules like price, time, location, and vehicle type.
“Flexibility and timing are the biggest benefits,” Rider remarks. “Lab users can get a ride any time of day, any day of the year. And Lyft drivers are there within minutes, rather than on a set schedule like a bus or shuttle.”
TOP BENEFITS INCLUDE
Significant cost avoidance
The university estimated the cost of buses or shuttles between $21K/month and $25K/month. Even with higher than expected Lyft usage, CU Boulder estimates about $190K per year in cost savings.
“Finding the least expensive option was key for a program where originally, we had no clear funding path,” comments Rider.
Lab users love Lyft
When budgets are being reviewed, Hudmon and his team regularly hear from faculty asking that administration do whatever is necessary to keep Lyft available.
“What students like is how easy it is to use Lyft,” notes Hudmon. “They wish other programs offered similar rideshare options.”
Set it and forget it
Simplified administration and automated processes take the work out of enrollment for both lab users and staff, while also providing additional visibility into program usage and spend.
“It really has been set it and forget it,” says Hudmon. “The program works so well, it provides a good case for transportation solutions at other research properties across the city.”
The University of Colorado now has a master service agreement with Lyft Business for the Lyft Ride Credits Program at all four of its campuses. At CU Boulder’s student health services facility, Lyft Concierge is also used to get sick or injured students home after appointments. “Lyft has proven to be a great partner for us,” Rider concludes.
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