Students faced unexpected charges Saturday night after an error with the Lyft app failed to provide students with supplemental rides associated with the USC Safe Rides program.
There has been no official announcement from USC about the error regarding the incorrect program hours, but USC Transportation wrote in an email to Annenberg Media that Lyft is working to reimburse those who were charged inaccurately.
“This was an error in Lyft’s programming and is being rectified,” Michelle Garcia, senior associate director of USC Transportation, wrote in an email to Annenberg Media. “Lyft is working to identify rides taken within the geofence on October 2, and will reimburse those rides accordingly.”
The Safe Rides program provides everyone on campus with free rides operated by Lyft within a geo-fenced boundary around both the University Park and Health Science campuses. The free ride service, known as “Fryft” among students, is normally offered at the University Park Campus from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week, except for Saturdays with home football games.
In a campus-wide email on Sept. 3, USC Transportation clarified game day policies stating the program “does not commence until five hours after kickoff due to traffic congestion in the area.” But students were faced with a dilemma when they were charged for a ride during the program’s free hours.
Sophomore communication major, Chris Turino was charged for a qualifying Lyft during the normal pass hours on Saturday. Turino said, “We were really confused by the whole situation. We didn’t Google or anything, but I was just kind of assuming that Lyft also did not know what was going on or it was some sort of mistake or glitch. So we ended up paying for the Lyft.”
Fryft has also become a part of USC’s student culture, and has provided students with convenience and safety, especially during late night hours.
“Fryfting is very important for two things, drunk driving and also safety of students, especially women, who feel like they can’t walk at night,” said Aneri Shah, a philosophy, politics, and economics major, in an interview.
The Safe Rides program has not only reduced the risk of drunk driving, but it has also allowed for students to have a safe alternative to use for returning home from parties or late classes.
“I think USC having the free lyft program was really beneficial to students to help them get around an unsafe area in a safe way,” said Mia Lima, a communication major, in an interview.
Normal Saturday hours, from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., will resume on Oct. 16 due to this week’s weekend home game.