Duke’s Uber Program Expands to Durham Nonprofits

Student input leads to addition of five new routes

Duke's Uber program has expanded to include five additional fare-free locations in Durham.
Duke's Uber program has expanded to include five additional fare-free locations in Durham.

An idea that emerged from a student group in January has led to the expansion of Duke’s Uber program to cover the cost of round-trip rides from campus to five additional Durham locations.

In January, Duke seniors Dayton Grogan and Tanner Lockhead took the idea to provide more transportation options for students seeking to volunteer at non-profits in Durham to Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president for Administration. The details were worked out, a contract was signed with Uber, and service began this week.

“I was amazed at how quickly this happened,” said Grogan, who said the idea originally surfaced during a Duke Partnership for Services retreat with representatives from more than 60 student-run service organizations. “We researched which areas student groups were going to the most to identify the five locations. Ideally, this option will help close the gap between Durham and Duke and make it easier for more people to get involved.”

Duke's Uber program.

The new locations, which cover Duke students, faculty, and staff, include:

“We are really fortunate to have the quality of students at Duke who bring forward ideas that could benefit our community and work with us to make them happen,” Cavanaugh said. “The Uber program at Duke has been a great way to supplement our bus and van routes, and now it will also be a means of increasing volunteer support in the Durham community.”

Last year, Duke introduced a pilot program with Uber to transport students, faculty, and staff to the Duke Lemur Center and later added the Duke Campus Farm to provide better transit options for areas not on any regular bus or van routes. Since the Uber service was introduced, the two sites have generated nearly 630 trips.

Prior to the Uber option, Emily McGinty, assistant program manager at the Campus Farm, spent lots of time organizing carpools for staff and volunteers to come out to the farm. But now she just sends a message with a link to the Uber information.

“It has distinctly increased number and broadened the scope of people who apply to work at the farm because you have to have transportation to get here,” she said. “This spring, we are also seeing droves of volunteers coming out.”

Pick-up and drop-off for Uber rides only take place within specific boundaries of university properties to be eligible for a cost-covered trip.

In order to access an individualized promo code Duke community members must do the following:

  • Download the Uber app from the Apple App Store, Google Play or Microsoft.
  • Visit parking.duke.edu/uber and agree to an electronic waiver and release for the pilot program.
  • Using a valid NetID to confirm agreement, students and employees will need to enter a provided code into the Uber app to earn a credit for the free trip to or from the designated off-site locations. 
  • Upon entering the code once, Duke users will be able to select the “Duke” view during available hours instead of Uber X, UberXL or UberSELECT, prior to finalizing the ride request.
  • Once the code is activated in the app by a Duke community member, it can be reused for additional trips to and from any of the approved sites for the remainder of this year.

For more information, visit the Duke Parking & Transportation website.