Amber Lee

If I paid for Uber rides using a pre-paid card (in a similar fashion to CMU ID cards -> Port Authority buses), would I be persuaded to take them more often?

Before the beginning of every academic year, the university works with Port Authority to generate a flat transportation fee based on the previous year’s ride data. Students might assume that they ride the buses for free, but this fee has already been paid for along with tuition to cover the predicted amount of rides they will take. 

This knowledge did not directly persuade me to ride the bus significantly more or less, but it impacted my view on alternative forms of transportation (specifically Uber and Lyft). Previously, when I was under the impression that bus rides were free for students, I felt justified and comfortable calling occasional rideshares for trips to grocery stores, restaurants, etc. In retrospect, I probably thought I was already saving money by taking the bus most of the time. After learning that my parents were technically already paying a flat fee to Port Authority, I noticed a change in my thought process when considering a rideshare. 

Previous considerations
Is it cold?
Do I know how to get to my destination easily?
Is there a high demand and subsequent price influx right now?
If I’m buying groceries or large items: can I carry my bags myself?

Present-day considerations
Is it cold? 
Do I understand the bus route Maps is suggesting?
Will I be riding and therefore splitting the cost with others?
What is the total sum for rides to and from? Should I Uber/Lyft there and bus back (or vice versa)?
Is there a closer alternative that would be cheaper or reachable by bus?
If I’m buying groceries or large items: can I carry my bags myself?

I noticed that I rarely go anywhere besides Oakland and Squirrel Hill, since those two areas are the most conveniently reachable by bus. I would say that in my freshman year, I had a more explorative mindset and didn’t consider transportation as heavily. Nowadays, I think my desire to explore Pittsburgh has died down significantly (probably just because I’ve been here for longer) and my consideration for transportation has heightened. In fact, I have probably persuaded myself against going to certain places if it is simply inconvenient and expensive to go. I can only justify such travels and persuade myself that the cost is fine if there is a special occasion (i.e. a friend’s birthday) or an assignment for class. On the topic of rhetoric, I noticed that when Ubering with others, people (myself included) generally hold back on projecting their transportation preferences. Often, we say “I’m fine with anything, whatever’s easier.” I’m interested in knowing how my above analysis of my internal persuasion tactics might affect my riding patterns if I shared my rhetoric against rideshares (except when necessary) more openly.  

I am showing my Uber expenses as I use it more commonly than Lyft. This semester, I have Ubered a total of 11 times. This probably rounds out to 5 trips to and from. 

  1. Trader Joe’s (grocery store) -> home. My friend and I both had a few bags to carry and we took the bus to Trader Joe’s.
  2. Home <-> Two Sisters (restaurant). My friend had important news to share with me and another friend. We considered taking the bus but the Uber was considerably cheap between the three of us. In addition, I think I’m more likely to agree to call for a rideshare on weekends.
  3. Home <-> Mercurio’s (restaurant). It was 13 degrees Fahrenheit, the bus to Shadyside arrives every 20 minutes and the bus stop is a seven minute walk away.
  4. Artist & Craftsman Supply -> home. I took the bus and walked there without checking beforehand how cold and windy it was outside. Then, because of the tragic and windy walk there and my heavy purchase, I called an Uber back.
  5. Oakland area -> Muddy Waters (restaurant). My friend was visiting and she did not have a bus card. We realized it was really inconvenient to pay per trip for the bus because it is $2.75 per ride and there is no change given. We ran out of exact change for the bus, so we had to resort to Ubering. 
  6. Home <-> Umami (restaurant). Same as above.
  7. PIT <-> home. I always persuade myself that it’s ok to Uber from the airport because my flight to/from home is so long.

To address my initial question: If I paid for Uber rides using a pre-paid card (in a similar fashion to CMU ID cards -> Port Authority buses), would I be persuaded to take them more often?

If the pre-paid amount was a mandatory due lumped in with my tuition, I would probably Uber constantly. I realized that many of my concerns and tactics for self-persuasion were in consideration of cost. Therefore, if the cost was already taken care of, I could be persuaded easily because 1) the cost is fairly hidden and 2) my parents have already paid for it, so I should make good use of it.