Tip Whip, a ridesharing service that caters to college students, plans to begin operating
at the University of Oregon by the time fall classes start on Sept. 24.
Unlike other ridesharing services such as Lyft and Uber, Tip Whip is intended to only be used by college students. To begin using either the passenger or driver app, users must register their account with a .edu college email address.
Tip Whip’s payment system is also unique among ridesharing services. Rather than
being charged fares for rides, passengers set tip amounts for drivers who can
then choose whether or not to accept the pickup request.
In recognition of the strong demand for ridesharing services in the area, the Eugene City Council voted in April to amend transportation regulations that had long kept Lyft and Uber from operating in Eugene. Both companies started services in Eugene this week, with Lyft launching yesterday, Sept. 5 followed by Uber’s launch today.
Tip Whip CEO Spencer Wood said that he doesn’t believe his company will encounter the same problems faced by other ridesharing services because Tip Whip drivers do not collect fares and it has a history of successful operations at other universities. He also said that Tip Whip has not contacted city officials or applied for a transportation network license to operate in Eugene.
“As of right now we haven’t had any regulation problems at any of our universities,” said Wood. “If the city feels like we’re not following their rules and regulations they will contact us.”
The Emerald contacted the city of Eugene’s business license program to clarify how regulations might affect Tip Whip. A city official stated that regardless of how payments are collected from passengers, a company operating as a transportation network would need to acquire a license or face up to $2,000 in fines per day.
The official also stated that drivers of public passenger vehicles must be at least 21 years old, which prevents most undergraduate students from driving for Tip Whip or any transportation network company in Eugene.
UO spokesperson Tobin Klinger said he is unaware of any contact between Tip Whip and UO, but that the university is open to working with them.
“We’re currently connected with Uber to identify pick-up locations and would certainly be willing to work with other ride-share programs,” said Klinger.
Wood started Tip Whip in January 2014 at the University of Maine, where he had graduated from the previous year. Over the past two years the company has expanded to campuses around the U.S., and UO is the first college on the west coast it plans to operate at.