RideShare resolution relieves pressure of finding ride home

Audra Kincart

The Government of the Student Body hopes to decrease drunk driving with the help of a RideShare resolution.

On April 22, GSB passed almost unanimously, 31-1-2, a resolution that could bring transportation network companies, like Uber, to Ames.

Transportation network companies enable smart phones to connect passengers with drivers and their personal vehicles.

“What’s most important is people are making smart decisions that could affect their lives or their friends’ lives in general,” said Jamie Rix, junior in public relations and political science and spearhead of the resolution.

Rix said GSB has received feedback from more than 700 people. 

“We had so much support shown,” Rix said. “It’s amazing how much it blew up and it’s still surfacing and that’s really cool.”

One transportation networking company that is used in cities such as Chicago, Kansas City, Des Moines and Cedar Rapids is Uber.

After downloading the app, customers enter the location to be picked up and dropped off and allows them to communicate with a driver without sharing personal information, such as a cell phone number.

When matched with a driver, the app sends the passenger the driver’s pictures, the make of the car they will be picked up in as well as the license plate number.

The app also shows the driver’s location in real time to track the wait time. Riders can share the estimated time of arrival with family or friends so they can ensure a safe trip.

Transactions are made via the app and riders are able to rate the experience after each trip.

Uber drivers are checked before the company employs them.

“They go through inspection of the vehicle. They go through extensive background checks,” said Peter Myers, junior in finance and GSB senator who helped write the resolution. “You can’t have sexual assaults, a DUI, a moving violation, you pretty much have to have a near perfect record.”

Since Uber has been in California, drunk driving incidents have decreased by 6.5 percent per month among drivers under 30.

Since being passed in GSB, the resolution has been sent to state representatives, senators and the legislature, Myers said.

“A resolution from the student body is pretty powerful because it does symbolize this entire university does support a statewide regulation to be implemented,” Myers said.

The House of Representatives passed the bill to have statewide regulated transportation network companies by 95 percent.

The Senate Transportation Committee tabled the bill until the state budget is determined.

Mayor Ann Campbell, who is in favor of the bill, said to Rix in an email, “Our role in regulation would be somewhat directed by what does or does not happen in the legislature.” 

City of Ames councilman Matthew Goodman said he is open to allowing this type of operation in Ames.

“In Ames, we currently do not regulate taxi rides, so I see no need to regulate Uber rides,” Goodman said. “If in Des Moines or other large communities where regulation of taxis was intended to ensure safety and keep the streets clear of hired drivers waiting for a fare, that is a different story. So I’m open to allowing such operations in Ames.”

Rix said it was time somebody started the process. 

“Someone just had to do it,” Rix said. “Somebody had to start the conversation. Somebody had to get people thinking, ‘why isn’t it here?’ I don’t think it would have happened if we didn’t start this conversation now.” 

Rix said she sees a decrease in drunk driving as the biggest benefit from having the rideshare program in Ames.

“It might be a while, but we see progress every day,” Rix said.

Last year in Iowa, 32.5 percent of all traffic deaths resulted from drunk driving and there were more than 16,000 driving under the influence arrests.

Myers said he sees multiple benefits of having a rideshare company, including convenience for students without cars, avoidance of parking tickets and not having to walk home in the winter.