EDITORIAL: Ride-sharing is the hidden cost of college

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The rise in Uber and Lyft fares poses yet another obstacle for college students.

Many college students rely on ride-sharing services daily to get to and from school or work, but now they must pay fuel surcharges on top of other attached fees.

California colleges and universities are gradually transitioning back to predominantly face-to-face instruction. This trajectory makes getting an education less accessible to those who are busy, immunocompromised or don’t have the wealth to spend on rising ride fares.

Not all students live close to campus, which also increases the total ride fare and the number of time-consuming bus transfers.

There aren’t any known student discounts on Lyft or Uber’s websites, and it would be highly beneficial to students if they had that option — considering that many students may work or live on their own, don’t have many people to rely on and can’t afford much.

Students have reported instances where drivers have called them to cancel the ride they picked up because, if the rider cancels, the driver still gets paid for having picked up the ride, leaving the rider with extra charges for the cancelation.

Some students have to request numerous rides because their initial driver canceled the ride due to the distance between pickup and drop-off locations.

Rather than serving as a convenience to its users, ride-sharing becomes more of a hassle when you consider the ride fee, service charges, Lyft’s 75-cent California Driver Benefits Fee, and now a gas surcharge — is it really worth the strain on students’ wallets?

The Riverside Community College District gives every student a free Riverside Transit Agency bus pass, but public transportation is not the safest option for those who often have night classes. It’d be safer to fork up the cash for an Uber or Lyft ride home, but that brings us back to the issue of affordability.

Students will have to resort to asking someone they know for a ride, taking the bus or missing out on class for the day.

Riverside City College does offer a Lyft promotion code on its website but that is only available for new riders. No such promo code seems to exist on Norco College or Moreno Valley College’s websites.

The district has taken a couple steps to assist its students with transportation. However, if the district wishes to move toward its pre-pandemic educational structure, then it’s time for the district to consider relieving the burden of transportation costs on students.

College students, especially those who don’t receive financial aid, have to work strenuous hours to keep up with tuition fees, food, bills and every other cost of life instead of keeping up with school work — not to mention familial obligations in addition to that long list of responsibilities.

The cost of transportation doesn’t need to be another obstacle to education.

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