Sac State ride-hailing app Zimride ends before it begins


Claire Morgan - The State Hornet

The University Parking and Transportation’s plans to bring the ride-hailing service Zimride to campus have fallen through in contract negotiations between the service and Sacramento State.

Rin Carbin

Despite being nearly ready for launch, a campus ride-hailing service meant to alleviate Sacramento State’s traffic and parking problems has fallen through in contract negotiations.

Zimride, owned by Enterprise Holdings Inc., is a ride-hailing service similar to Lyft that would connect Sac State students with one another for carpooling. The ride-hailing app was announced in the spring in anticipation of reduced parking spaces caused by extensive campus construction during the usually busy fall semester.

University Transportation and Parking Services (UTAPS) introduced Zimride as a way for students to find carpool partners and reduce the number of vehicles on campus. UTAPS also hoped students would continue to use the service past the fall semester to reduce environmental impact and keep parking spaces open.

A little under two months after the fall semester began, Sac State’s Procurement & Contract Services Office, which handles contract negotiations and campus purchases, received word that Enterprise Holdings Inc. would not sign the contract because of provisions that Sac State requires in every agreement.

According to John Guion, director of Procurement & Contract Services, Enterprise Holdings Inc. was unwilling to accept or negotiate Sac State’s general terms, including payment and intellectual property arrangements and insurance agreements protecting Sac State in case of future problems.

“They indicated to me that they were not going to accept any of our general provisions, and that was the main stumbling block,” Guion said. “If there’s provisions they don’t like the wording of, many times we’ll go in and negotiate that wording to where we both have a mutual understanding and agreement that we can live with and move forward with. But to wholesale out and say, ‘We’re not accepting any of them, and we’re not going to negotiate,’ we can’t accept that.”

Laura Bryant, a spokesperson for Enterprise Holdings Inc., said in an email that the company was “disappointed that CSUS’ provisions were written in such a way as to prevent us from reaching a similar agreement,” and that other universities in California did not require the same provisions.

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Even though the contract went unsigned, Enterprise Holdings Inc. had already set up much of the service for Sac State, including the basic “look and feel” and ability to create profiles according to UTAPS Director Tony Lucas.

While Lucas said he was disappointed that Sac State did not receive Zimride’s service in time for the fall semester, the unsigned contract was “maybe good news.”

“Even though I’m not thrilled about it, I guess I’m kind of happy to find out before we invested way too much energy in the implementation of it,” Lucas said.

As for the next step, Lucas said that UTAPS will seek out a different ride-hailing service, whether by returning to the runners-ups to Zimride — Rydite and RideAmigos — or by redoing the search to see if any services had changed or have just started since early in the spring semester.

Rydite appears to have closed, however, with its webpage and social media displaying a “goodbye” message, and the app itself no longer on Apple’s App Store.

For RideAmigos, Lucas said the prior semester’s student representatives for the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), the board that approved Zimride, disliked RideAmigos for looking “old-school” and not being neither app-based nor mobile-friendly, but he added that RideAmigos may have changed since it was last reviewed.

However, junior art major Ashley Mclemore said that a carpool service — regardless of being in app form or mobile-friendly — would help her feel safer commuting to campus from Citrus Heights.

Mclemore said that she wakes up early to catch a 6 a.m. bus for her 8 a.m. class, and that she has been harassed while waiting for or riding the bus, even when it was light out.

“(A carpool) would save me a lot of time so I don’t have to wake up so many hours early, and (I would) probably feel safer since it’s not just walking out there to a giant bus of strangers.” Mclemore said.

Despite the delayed introduction of a ride-hailing service to Sac State and Parking Structure V planned to open in time for the spring semester, Lucas said he still believes a ride-hailing service will be beneficial for Sac State in the long term.

“We’ll still do it, and we’ll still have people that are interested in the program, but it’s not going to be done in time for fall,” Lucas said. “That was our really big hope, to have this thing up and running during the summer, but this is still a very important initiative for the campus, and we are going to pursue this with a lot of energy.”