USC partners with Lyft to create a better transportation program for students
INDUSTRY | HIGHER EDUCATION
USC students’ late-night transportation needs skyrocketed on the weekend. Adding more shuttles and staff might meet their needs during peak hours, but were cost inefficient during the rest of the week.
Lyft and USC worked together to design a transportation program using Lyft Pass that would provide subsidized rides to students. The program decreased wait times for riders, increased student satisfaction, and reduced operating costs.
- Facilitated more than 2.8 million rides over the last 4 years of partnership
- Reduced operational costs by 40% from April – December 2020
USC’s more reliable and flexible late-night transportation option increases rider satisfaction and lowers operational costs.
The University of Southern California (USC), located in Los Angeles, is one of the world’s leading private research universities, with diverse curricular offerings for interdisciplinary studies. With a student population of 46,000 and a campus sprawling 226 acres, moving students reliably from point A to point B is a large undertaking. With that in mind, USC launched a transportation program for all students with Lyft Pass.
USC has traditionally offered and operated Late Night Safe Ride Program — a shuttle service designed to keep students safe while traveling around campus at night. This program has always been in high demand, and operation has always fluctuated based on days of the week and activities on campus. The Late Night Safe Ride Program started to see more demand on the weekends, which caused ETAs to rise during those hours. USC’s priority was to keep wait times low and continue to stay within the limitations of their budget. They faced the challenge of bringing in more vehicles and staffing that would meet the peak weekend demand, knowing, however, that those resources would not be used the rest of the week.
“Lyft understood our focus on providing a quick and reliable solution to our students that had the flexibility to meet our ever-changing demand. We wanted a partner that would listen to our concerns, address our needs, and work with us to provide the best solutions possible.”
— Michelle Garcia
Senior Associate Director, USC Transportation
In order to provide a better experience for students and save money on transportation costs, USC looked to Lyft to design a new ride program. USC wanted the program to meet the following criteria to ensure its success:
- The ability to limit transportation to only USC students
- A lower operating cost per ride than the previous system
- A scalable service that could meet the fluctuating demand and keep wait times down
- An easily automated and executable program
Lyft and USC worked together to design a transportation program using Lyft Pass, a solution that made it easier for USC to cover rides for their students, while staying in control of their budget and how it’s used. The final result provided access to Lyft rides for students that are 100% subsidized by the University, within a two-mile radius of campus, 7 PM – 2 AM, nightly.
The Lyft program kicked off in Fall 2018 and was available to all USC students. Students received a customized email invitation to join the program at the start of each semester. The invitation provided a way for USC to limit any abuse and create an authentication process: invitations to join the Lyft program could only be sent to @usc.edu addresses.
Since this program’s inauguration, Lyft Pass has enabled USC to save money on their operating costs and students have seen a decrease in wait times for pickups. Additionally, USC was able to create pick-up and drop-off areas on campus using a venue mapping system, which has reduced congestion at heavily trafficked areas.
Students love the flexibility and ease of the program — ridesharing is a familiar concept to them and they like that it’s a part of their everyday transportation options at the University. The program has encouraged many students to leave their car at home.
A drop in operational costs
After switching from a shuttle service to a partnership with Lyft, USC saw operational costs decrease by 40% within 9 months.
USC was able to tailor their program to their specific needs all while staying within budget. Subsidized rides were distributed via invites to students’ email addresses, kept to a predetermined geographic location, and limited to certain hours of the day.
Increased customer satisfaction
Students love the flexibility, familiarity, and ease of the program.
Increased rideshares enabled USC to create pick-up and drop-off areas on campus using a venue mapping system.
“Lyft has been a great partner!” says Garcia. “They continue to engage in conversations with us to truly understand our challenges and find cost-effective and meaningful solutions that meet the needs of the university.”
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