No, it’s not a scam. If you’re stuck at 2 a.m. on a Sunday in a Monterey bar, you can get a Lyft back to campus and get a $17 discount as part of a pilot project paid for by student fees.
Last month California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) students received an email from Lyft, the ride sharing service, about transportation benefits coming to campus.
CSUMB has decided to provide subsidized transportation to its students as an addition to when the Monterey Salinas Transit (MST) buses are not running. If students register they will receive Lyft passes that give you $17 off per ride, for three rides a month. This service is renewed each month. But be aware, it has its limitations.
According to the email sent out to students the Lyft passes can only be used during the following times:
Sundays from 7-11:59 p.m.
Monday from midnight-7 a.m.
Monday – Friday 9-11:59 p.m.
Tuesday – Saturday midnight-6 a.m.
Saturday – Sunday 7 p.m.-7:00 a.m.
On CSUMB’s own transportation website, the information is far easier to understand. Students are charged the difference for trips that exceed $17 and it is available Monday – Friday 7 p.m.-7 a.m. and Saturday-Sunday 9 p.m.-7 a.m.
The prices of both Lyft and Uber rides depend on a few different factors. According to Lyft’s website, their ride prices are made up of three parts:
- Lyft fare
- Local tolls or fees
- Tips to your driver
However when Lyft gives you an estimate they take these into consideration:
- Ride route
- Ride type
- Ride availability
This is why you can expect a ride from CSUMB to the Aquarium on a Sunday to be about $20, but if you were to take the same ride at 6 p.m on a Friday it increases to $34.
Fourth-year international student Hinako Kobashi welcomes the addition of Lyft. “I didn’t think it was a scam,” Kobashi said.
“For students, especially international students who don’t have a car, it is good. If you go out and drink this is good, or if you have an emergency at night. It is a new option,” she said.
“I was confused and I didn’t hear about it and thought it was a scam,” said fourth-year Anthony Chun
“Like CSUMB sends out phishing emails,” Chun said. “They never talked about it and I never heard about it anywhere else.”
Despite this, both students are hesitant about the amount that CSUMB is covering.
“Why only three rides per month? And why only $17? It should be at least $20 or 50% off rides because of the high prices in the area,” Kobashi stated.
Chun shared a similar sentiment to Kobashi.
“It’s not enough to cover the Lyft in the area and the instructions are confusing. It is something with the campus area, but I don’t know exactly,” Chun said. “Yeah it will benefit me as a student if I don’t have a ride home, they subsidize the ride.”
The unclear instructions is something Kobashi agreed on.
“It is very complicated information. It is not clear when I can use it. We only got an email from Lyft, the information should come from campus.”
With the number of phishing emails CSUMB sends out to its students it is easy to see why they get confused.
“We get sent so many emails from the university that there are phishing attempts, it’s easy to believe this can be one too,” Kobashi says.
“At first I didn’t plan on using it, but my boyfriend needed to travel between East Campus and main campus at 5 a.m. I never used the credit option because I didn’t know how it was working, or how to use it in the app. I have never tested something like this before,” Kobashi said.
Chun also found issues with the limitations to the new Lyft services.
“I wish there weren’t limitations of time when you can use it,” Chun said. “Emergencies can happen at any time, and don’t take into consideration the schedule of when the Lyft credit can be used.”
Like Kobashi, Chun is clear he too wants to see more information come from CSUMB.
“Post this on campus and out the information,” said Chun. “It is easy to think it’s a scam. I can talk to people now and verify it’s not a scam, but if I hadn’t heard you interview Hinako I wouldn’t have known.”
Fourth-year Mad Bolander also reflected on the suddenness of the email.
“I felt the email was out of the blue, but not that it was a scam,” Bolander said. “I certainly would recommend the administration going forward to offer more direct communication with students from some sort of administrative email.”
Bolander also agreed it is a great opportunity as the halfway point in the semester is approaching.
“I feel like it is an opportune time for students who are struggling with midterms and the like to have access to easy transportation. Not having to wait an hour for the bus or walk a mile and a half back to your dorm with arms full of groceries is a luxury.”
Like other students, Bolander is also confused about the new program.
“I wish there was a lack of limitations, I feel as though it is a fair amount of rides to be given though it is my understanding we only had access to them last month? I’m honestly not sure,” they said.
If students want more information they can read more about this program here: https://csumb.edu/transportation/rideshare-taxis/
The information posted is far more clear about who is eligible to sign up, where and when the program is available. In order to sign up, students need to click the link in the email. However, if students have lost the email they can also use this link to sign up: https://www.lyft.com/lp/OTTERRIDESCSUMB
According to the website “To participate, you must be enrolled in hybrid, or in-person classes and pay the student AS fee. Once you are eligible, you will receive an email from the Lyft Business with instructions on how to sign up.”
Some safety tips shared on the transportation website include:
- Verify your ride by ensuring the license plate number, driver information, and car make and model match what you see in the app.
- Share your location and route with a friend or loved one from within the Lyft app so they can follow your ride in real time.
- Follow the Lyft vehicle on GPS via the app.
- Ask the driver to say who they are picking up.