Student Government’s (SG) ride-sharing program with Uber, which launched in 2019, has been put on hold indefinitely to readjust details and logistics after the original deal was deemed “unsustainable” under the current SG budget.
Tampa Governor Spencer McCloskey, Lieutenant Governor Zack Blair-Andrews, Assistant Director of External and Government Affairs DJ Swartz and Tampa campus Deputy Chief Financial Officer Jessica Senatus have drafted a new proposal for the Uber partnership, which will cut students’ monthly Uber discounts in half, from four $5 discounts per month to two.
The program was paused Feb. 12 and will be unavailable to students until the readjusted plan is approved, for which there is no estimated date.
“We wanted to take a minute to assess the sustainability of [the program], because the ability to pull from other sources of funding that we budgeted [for the program] pre-COVID is not going to be sustainable going forward,” said Swartz.
The ability to continue offering four discounts per student each month was hindered due to an increased number of students using the Uber program, which the SG 2020-21 budget was not prepared for.
Swartz said the SAFE Team voucher, a service established in 2019 that allowed students to redeem $30 of funds for Uber rides through contacting the SAFE Team, also created an additional cost that the budget did not take into account when it was implemented, but will continue to be offered in the new plan.
As part of the new plan, Swartz said SG is trying to reallocate around $22,000 in funds that were intended for the Day at the Capitol trip, in which students go to Tallahassee for a day to sit down with Florida representatives and discuss careers in state government, to pay for the expenses created by the Uber partnership since the event is now virtual.
“We have identified the Day at the Capitol funding as a source of funds to continue operating the program, and we just need to work within the means of the [SG] bylaws to retool that money, which of course takes time and thus the pause,” said Swartz.
To ensure that the program will be able to continue until the end of the semester and in years ahead, SG officials are taking the pause to properly adjust funding to allow for the new, downsized version of the Uber ride discounts.
“That’s going to be the main reason why it was temporarily paused again, just to first and foremost re-evaluate [and] to make sure it’s sustainable … in the years forward,” he said. “Making sure we got our obligations and ducks in a row.”