ASUO campaigns address the potential return of Uber

Despite almost being a year since Uber suspended its Eugene services after facing penalties from the City of Eugene, two ASUO election slates are calling for its return.  

Members of two of the contending slates, “One Oregon” and “I’m With UO,” see the ride-share service as a remedy in lowering the rate of attacks directed at University of Oregon students — in a city where bus services no longer extend past midnight, and a campus where calling for its two free student transportation services — Designated Driver Shuttle and Safe Ride — might mean lengthy wait times during peak hours.

However, the presidential candidates of each camp expressed several differences in their plans.

Quinn Haaga, the I’m with UO candidate for ASUO President, envisions Uber as a backup service to SafeRide and DDS, where if a student has to wait more than 10 minutes to be connected to its dispatchers, the free Uber service will kick in.

“We would still be wanting to prioritize services that are on campus like DDS and SafeRide,” she said.

For students at the University of Southern California, this system is a reality.  However,  according to Ram Ananth, a USC freshman, Uber has become the first choice transport service for students.

“Barely anyone uses Campus Cruiser anymore” Ananth said, “It’s more like a last resort because Campus Cruiser hours just extend a little more than 2 a.m.”

Haaga simultaneously aims to coordinate the funding, van usage, and student workers of both SafeRide and DDS together, as well as a demand for more funding from the administration to finance the services.

On the other hand, Zach Rentschler, the One Oregon candidate for ASUO President, doesn’t believe that the service should be paid for by the student government or administration, and instead for Uber to be regulated by City Council, for students to pay for as a cheaper alternative to taxis.

The Eugene City Council is who will determine whether or not Uber could legally operate in Eugene.

Although the City of Eugene imposed a penalty of $1,500 a day on the ride-service company last year, City Council might be laying the groundwork for an Uber comeback.  

According to Eugene Community Outreach & Participation Coordinator Laura Hammond, the City Council has updated its codes to allow vehicles for hire to use smart-phone applications to charge fares, and to categorize some ride sharing companies (including Uber) as “Transportation Network Companies” which would allow them to get licenses for rides for hire. According to Hammond, a public forum will take place on April 11th, and final update proposals are scheduled for approval in late April by the City Manager.

Desire for Uber among campaign candidates is sparking an interest in City Council affairs among the ASUO community. Rentschler plans to appoint an Urban Affairs Director, who would represent UO’s student government in city-wide politics should he find victory in the ASUO elections.

The remaining slate, Duck Squad, is opposed to an Uber return. It views expanding existing services as the more fiscally conservative option towards student fees, and in response to numerous reports of sexual assault nation-wide, the company would endanger students.

“Uber has had many mishaps with sexual harassment, attempted assaults, and abductions, not to mention the company’s problematic and exploitative labor practices” wrote members of Duck Squad in an official statement to the Emerald.

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Andrew Field

Andrew Field