The San Diego College of Continuing Education has launched a pilot program to provide free taxi rides to students struggling with basic needs.
The university calls its partnership with United Taxi Workers of San Diego the first of its kind. Students will receive a $100 transportation voucher.
The initiative is scheduled to begin in early February and will include small groups of up to five students. In the coming weeks, the number of students will expand to his 100 students. Only those who sign up for her SDCCE CARES, which provides basic needs support to students, are eligible.
The need is acute. According to the university's Office of Systems, Effectiveness and Research, 46% of SDCCE students earn less than $10,000 a year and one in three are unemployed.
“It is important that we meet the needs of our students and the needs of our community,” said SDCCE President Dr. Tina M. King. “It’s also essential to work with organizations like the United Taxi Workers of San Diego, whose members live here and will benefit from this program.”
Mikhail Hussein, president of the San Diego United Taxi Workers, agrees.
“This is about uplifting everyone: students, workers, communities,” he said, noting that 94 percent of taxi fares go directly to drivers and their families.
Universities in the area, including SDCCE, have been offering discounted or free bus and trolley passes to students for years. This was my first time getting a free taxi ride.
The pilot was launched last summer between King and former San Diego Community College Board member Peter Ziesche, who works with the United Taxi Workers of San Diego as financial advisor and is a member of the board. It developed through the discussion that started.
The $10,000 cost of the pilot program is being funded through the California Community College Chancellor's Basic Needs Initiative.
“This is not intended to be anyone's primary mode of transportation,” warned SDCCE Dean of Student Services Michele Madrid Novak. “It is intended for certain situations in which students are unable to access or access campus.”
Udayan Tandon, who works for United Taxi Workers in San Diego and is a computer science doctoral student at the University of California, San Diego, puts the final touches on Ride United, a new app that allows students participating in the pilot to summon participating drivers. It is carried out.
Students will be provided with a voucher card and the taxi driver will write the cost of each trip on the voucher. Each student who participates in the pilot will receive only one $100 coupon. Tandon estimates a five- to seven-mile taxi ride at $15 to $20.
SDCCE provides information to students through welcome activities and emails during the spring semester.
“Of course, we cannot serve all students with this modest funding source at the moment, but this is a good start and will help,” Madrid-Novak said.