POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — Uber and Lyft made their debut in Poughkeepsie merely three months ago, and the timing could not be more perfect. These ride-hailing giants recently expanded statewide and Marist College students have just made their return back to campus, increasing the demand for transport.
New York was the only state in the continental United States that did not allow statewide ride-booking services after Wyoming legalized the app’s operation in March 2017. It wasn’t until Thursday, June 27, at 12:01 a.m. that lawmakers decided to put into effect the new state law regulating Uber and Lyft.
The students at Marist have long been dependent on local taxi services. News of Uber and Lyft operating in upstate New York was both a surprise and and relief to many.
“We use Uber and usually have four people in our group, the ride is around $7, so if we all split it’s cheap,” Marist College junior Nicole Scruggs said. “They also don’t stuff 20 kids into one car [like the local taxi service].”
Outside of social activities, some students may need to go off campus for everyday tasks.
“As a Freshman I would sometimes miss my train when I needed to go home or I had a hard time getting to the food store,” senior Olivia Whitmer said.
Whitmer described the local cabs as not “very reliable,” showing a need for Marist to supply students with necessary transportation.
“I still have my ‘Ride with the Fox’ pass from when the school used to provide shuttle services to the mall or Stop & Shop, but I think they stopped doing that a few semesters ago,” Whitmer said.
A majority of the upperclassmen are aware that Uber and Lyft are operating in the local area, but because these services are so new to the area, many younger students do not know about it. That is soon to change especially because students are challenged with a limited number of Zipcars and parking options on campus, and most underclassmen do not drive.
The use of the ride-hailing services is projected to spread across campus, catching the attention of students who do not have access to convenient modes of transportation.
Marist senior Allie Beers is a regular user of Uber and notes that there are a few slip-ups, but she understands that it is fairly new and ultimately thinks that the service is good.
“The waits during the day are around seven to eight minutes, and on a night out they are four to five minutes,” Beers said. “A lot of the drivers aren’t from Poughkeepsie, they’re from Wappingers so they don’t really know the area: one guy got lost and he was driving around campus because he didn’t know where I was, but other than that it has been pretty good.”
The overall response from Marist College to the newly legalized services has been positive. As Uber and Lyft continue to gain popularity in upstate New York, transportation will become more accessible to students, making missed train rides, empty refrigerators and a sense of being trapped on campus a thing of the past.