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BYU students will have the option of taking shuttles or scooters to school this Fall Semester, and both options will come with new safety guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Students can also buy a $60 on-campus parking permit for their cars or register their bikes for free and ride them to campus.
The Ryde co-owner Jake Luekenga confirmed that the BYU-contracted shuttles will resume normal operations for Fall Semester. The schedule and routes will stay the same. The shuttles are free for anyone with a BYU ID and run during fall and winter classes.
Luekenga said The Ryde has put three safety measures in place for fall: requiring riders to wear masks, conducting hourly shuttle sanitizations and limiting the shuttles’ capacity to 50 riders.
Although there has been overcrowding on shuttles in past semesters, Luekenga said The Ryde expects as much as a 33% decrease in riders due to BYU holding various courses, particularly larger lecture courses like American Heritage 100, online.
Luekenga anticipates the first week of school might be slightly busier as students settle in and go to campus to buy textbooks. “We will monitor ridership and bus frequency closely and do our best to adapt as needed,” he said.
Music dance theatre junior Issa McKnight said she used to take the shuttle but since she has a car, “the crowdedness and me not being punctual led me to drive most days.”
“I probably will not take it in the fall just because I enjoy driving more — even with no parking — and I think it’ll be better so that I can distance myself from people a little with the virus going around,” McKnight said.
In contrast, public relations junior Sophia Stephenson said her experience with the shuttle has been “pretty positive,” and she will most likely ride the shuttle this fall.
“I take it as an alternative to driving because it’s nice at times to not have to worry about parking,” she said. “I’m not too concerned at the moment about the safety measures or lack thereof that might be on the shuttles because I’ll assume the best for now and will be personally wearing a mask and trying to social distance.”
To help with the rush of the first week back and other busier times throughout the semester, The Ryde will continue to offer backup buses along busy routes, namely near Wyview Park, Raintree Commons, and King Henry Apartments. Luekenga said these backup buses will run right behind the normal buses 7-10 a.m. to accommodate the greater demand during those times.
“We continue to have an ongoing conversation about how to keep our riders as safe as possible in these difficult and uncertain times,” Luekenga said. “We ask our riders to please avoid riding if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.”
Zagster, the company that previously rented orange scooters around the Provo and Orem area, went out of business in May. A notice on the company’s website states the majority of its assets were sold to SuperPedestrian, which has resumed scooter rentals in Provo.
SuperPedestrian Government Partnerships Director Ben LaRocco said the current price to unlock scooters is $1 and then 30 cents a minute but that in the near future, prices are going to be going up to 35 cents a minute, “which is more in line with current market rates in Utah, and to ensure that our service is sustainable for the long term.”
The company has a permit for up to 500 LINK scooters in Provo, but the actual number on the streets will fluctuate based on ridership, according to LaRocco.
“When ridden properly, scooters are a safe and socially distant form of transportation,” LaRocco said. “We think scooters are an ideal mode of transportation as communities cope with COVID-19.”
He added that scooters will be sanitized using disinfectant “every time a LINK employee touches the scooters.”
“This will vary based on ridership, and it won’t be the same for every scooter. Depending on how often a scooter is ridden, this could be every day, every other day, or multiple times a day,” he said. “We suggest riders bring wipes to wipe down the grips, brakes, and throttle and wash their hands after riding a scooter to ensure the already minimal risk of transmitting COVID-19 is reduced even further.”