Students walk, bike, skateboard and drive to get around campus, but a new student-run business is offering an alternative form of transportation. As of Monday, there’s a new option: Zen Shuttles, a “ride-sharing” service for ASU students and staff on the Tempe campus.
Zen Shuttles offers Sun Devils electric golf cart rides around campus, like a college version of Lyft or Uber, and promises to do so for less than other transportation services.
The company has three electric golf carts that can accommodate up to five passengers each. Although golf carts do not use the main driveways, they can take passengers on the streets of and around the Tempe campus.
To book a ride, students can use the Zen Shuttles app, currently only available on iOS devices, by entering their current location and desired destination.
Antoine Mistico, founder of Zen Shuttles and a junior majoring in technology entrepreneurship and management who secured funding for the company through Venture Devils, said Zen Shuttles was created to help students who struggle to travel on time between lessons.
“I think one of the biggest things has been giving back time to the students,” Mistico said. “I just talk to a lot of students and myself personally, a lot of students have to kind of create those spaces between classes so they can move from class to class.”
Dylan Bernaud, a first-year kinesiology student, said it took him about 10 to 15 minutes to walk to class. Although he’s not late to class, Bernaud said services like Zen Shuttles will help him get around and he’ll pay around $5 to use it.
Unlike ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft which calculate the cost of a ride based on distance and duration, Zen Shuttles charges rides at a flat rate of $1.99 per person, which means five students traveling together could travel across campus for about $10. Zen Shuttles also offers a $9.99 weekly pass for unlimited weekday rides called the Peace Pass.
Besides ride-sharing services, students have other options for getting around the Tempe campus, such as the Valley subway lines. However, Mistico said Zen Shuttles is a more efficient alternative.
Valley subway lines like Orbit and FLASH are free, but these lines go to designated stops. Zen Shuttles’ golf carts take streets that Valley Metro buses don’t, allowing students to get closer to some of their destinations, Mistico said.
“The FLASH and Orbit are great alternatives and it’s something that’s free, (but) we think we’re a bit more efficient than them because we take students right where they’re going,” said Mistico.
For their opening week, Zen Shuttles drivers are offering free rides to students they see walking around campus — however, if you book a ride through the app, you’ll be charged a $1.99 fee.
Some of the Zen Shuttles drivers are ASU students, like Madison Mayginnes, a freshman sports business student, who said she drove a professor to help her get to class on time.
“Someone I picked up was a teacher, and she was like, ‘I’m going to tell my students about it so they’re not late to class,'” Mayginnes said. “I just think it’s great because once you tell someone, they’ll tell someone else and the word will spread.”
Mistico said Zen Shuttles is looking to hire more ASU students. The starting salary is $15 per hour and students can apply by emailing [email protected]
Because it’s its launch week, Mistico said Zen Shuttles is testing hours of operation. Depending on consumer demand, Zen Shuttles will operate weekdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., or 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to Mistico.
Zen Shuttles is in a test period until April 29 to assess student demand and resolve any issues that may arise with the service.
Some students, like Eric Baylon, a second-year mechanical engineering student, said he would be hesitant to use the Zen shuttles if they could only travel on the street, which might not bring him close enough to his classes. .
“I would if they were accessible, because most of the time I go inside the school (for lessons), not on the street,” Baylon said.
Mistico said he hopes Zen Shuttles earns the trust of the ASU community and that offering free rides this week helps the company achieve that goal.
“For most people, free is like, ‘What do you mean free? What’s the catch?'” Mistico said. “We’ve had people say no because there’s that trust there, and we’re trying to build that with the community as well. Especially as students at ASU, we understand, we understand, but for those who said yes, they really enjoyed it.”
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Kaden RybackBusiness and Technology Journalist
Kaden is a reporter for the Biztech Bureau, focusing on student-run businesses, people profiles, and research papers. While at The State Press, Kaden’s biggest story was about ASU’s history with NASA. He is a sophomore majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication.
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