A longstanding University policy limiting Uber, Lyft, and taxi access to campus is now being enforced, affecting countless students, staff, and faculty who rely on these ride services.
The change will prevent Ubers, Lyfts, taxis, and airport shuttles from entering campus between the Elm Drive kiosks. These transportation services, however, will still be able to to pick up students from any location around the campus perimeter at any time, according to an email from University Director of Transportation and Parking Services Kim Jackson.
“The policy is in effect all day and accomplished with the assistance of Public Safety,” Jackson wrote in the same email.
Isabel Leigh ’19 called an Uber during Thanksgiving break to get to the Princeton Junction train station and catch a train to the airport. However, the guards on Elm Drive would not allow the Uber through, so she got in the car at the guard booth.
By the time Leigh arrived at the station, her train had already left.
Leigh heard about the policy through word of mouth.
“It was unannounced. This policy was kind of dropped on us and it’s been a real hassle,” Leigh said.
With the Dinky out of service, students rely more heavily on Uber and Lyft to leave campus.
“If the Dinky were working, I wouldn’t care as much,” explained Leigh.
Anika Khakoo ’22 had a similar experience.
“I was coming back to campus after Thanksgiving in an Uber with a friend. We were going through the back side of campus near Forbes,” Khakoo explained. “At the gate, the Uber wasn't allowed to come onto campus. We just stopped there.”
This policy has existed in the past, but it is now being enforced more strictly, according to Jackson.
“University policy had always been to limit access on Elm Drive to University vehicles, approved vendors, select faculty, staff and guest at all times,” explained Jackson in her email. “Beginning this academic year, as we continue to limit the traffic volume on our pedestrian campus for the safety of our students, faculty, and staff, the enforcement of the policy has become more uniform.”
However, several students have recently taken an Uber or Lyft without being stopped at the gate. Saoirse Bodnar ’22 took an Uber to the local AMC Theatres during Thanksgiving break.
“The Uber picked us up on Elm [Drive]. There was no trouble with the guards or anything. It was really easy,” Bodnar said.
“Sometimes you can get through. It just depends on who the guard is. Some are more strict than others,” Leigh said.
Victoria Pan ’21 was dropped off near Frist Campus Center when she took a Lyft from Trenton Transit Center with other students after fall break. Ubers and Lyfts can still access Frist because it is not between the two guard booths on Elm Drive.
Devorah Saffern ’20 explained the benefits of Ubers and Lyfts being allowed on campus.
“In my experience as an independent student (not on a meal plan), I find it really helpful to be able to travel by Uber or Lyft to and from campus, especially when I have a lot of groceries to carry back to my room,” Saffern wrote in an email. “Since having a car on campus is not so common and it is difficult to park, being able to travel this way is very important.”
“I just think [this policy] is an unnecessary inconvenience for the students,” Leigh said.
For now, students will have to trek to the outskirts of campus if they want to catch their Uber or Lyft.