GOTCHA Ride is a free taxi service, founded three years ago and run by students on college campuses in the U.S. The service began running two weeks ago and is already hitting it off with the late-night scene.
The University partnered with GOTCHA (Green Operated Transit Carrying Humanity Around) Ride at the end of the spring semester.
According to Sean Flood, CEO of GOTCHA Ride, word seemed to spread very quickly, and the business has been busy this summer.
“The core of our business is we only concentrate on college campuses,” Flood said.
Florida State University and the University of Florida are the only two other schools with GOTCHA Ride.
“Everything we do is benefiting the student,” Flood said. “We use 100 percent electric vehicles that we designed from scratch.”
The vehicles are referred to as rides by the company to differentiate them from gas-powered cars, Flood said.
Three rides are being used in Auburn currently, and they are all student driven. The drivers must be at least 21 years old and must pass a background check as well.
“We start with three, and we’ll add more as the demand makes sense,” Flood said. “It has been crazy busy. There’s been a definite need for more vehicles.”
The rides run Monday, Tuesday and Thursday through Sunday from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. Wednesdays, it runs from 8 p.m. until 3 a.m. Rides will be running during special events as well.
Currently rides are not available during the day. However, that may change this fall depending on the demand for rides in the daytime, Flood said.
You can call GOTCHA Ride at 855-446-8242, and the number calls all of the drivers that are working that night.
“It’s awesome working with them,” said Tom Hopf, driver for GOTCHA Ride. “I literally get to hang out downtown with other students all night. A night would start with parking downtown then waiting out, telling people that we do free rides. We work for tips.”
Students are always very surprised that the ride is free, Hopf said.
“When I first heard about GOTCHA Ride, I thought it was really cool that the cars being used were electric, and I thought it was awesome that it’s free,” said Holly Inman, junior in sociology. “My friends and I have used the service twice now, and the cars are really cool looking ”
The rides do not look like regular taxis. They are moving advertisements. Different companies advertise their products on the vehicles.
“They almost look like little buggies,” Inman said.
The vehicles carry up to five passengers as well as the driver. There are DVD players on the back of the head rests in the rides as well.
“I played The Office one night,” Hopf said. “And we’ve got some game clips that we’ll be playing in the fall.”
The rides can travel up to 35 miles per hour and are limited to roads with that maximum speed limit.
However, the company is trying to work with the city of Auburn to fix this, which would help with streets like Donahue and neighborhoods such as Creekside, Hopf said.
For more information, you can visit the Facebook page “The GOTCHA Ride Auburn” to learn more about the organization’s services and hours around campus.
Keep an eye out next time you are downtown and catch a ride.