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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Facing high taxi fares, students organize their own rides

Published: February 28, 2013
Section: News

Unlike students of Boston schools, Brandeis students face the unique dilemma of finding transportation at odd hours. As Brandeis is not located on the T, students are forced to work around the limited operation hours of the Commuter Rail and shuttle busses. In addition, only a small portion of Brandeis students have cars on campus. To remedy this frustrating problem, students have begun start-up companies of their own.

Rafael Abramowitz ’14 is the current president, owner and a driver for Rachel’s Rides, a student-run car service exclusively for Brandeis students. He took over for Rachel Karpoff ’12 who founded the company in 2009 to provide a cheaper alternative to cabs and a more convenient alternative to public transportation.

“Rachel’s Rides is a licensed livery service with all the proper insurance and is also incorporated through the state of Massachusetts,” Abramowitz said. “It is legal in every way.”

Rachel’s Rides currently employs four drivers, including Abramowitz, and serves up to 74 customers a week. Its peak periods are the weeks leading up to Brandeis break periods. Rachel’s Rides is unique among taxi services, however, because it serves Brandeis students exclusively, and it boasts the lowest prices guaranteed.

“We go out of our way to bundle students together. This does two things: since our rates decrease with each additional customer, bundling helps our fellow classmates obtain the cheapest rates possible,” Abramowitz said. “Secondly, bundling random students together who otherwise would have taken separate cabs helps the environment by taking dozens of cars off the roads each year.”

When Abramowitz took over Rachel’s Rides, he spent an entire summer remodeling the business, including its website and his own car. Abramowitz’s hard work paid off almost immediately, because during the first semester of Rachel’s Rides’ operation, business increased by an average of 360 percent each month.

“When I took over, Rachel’s Rides had nothing more than a basic website to its name. This bothered me. Brandeisians deserved and needed a full-fledged car service to best serve their transportation needs,” Abramowitz said. “I spent my entire summer remodeling Rachel’s Rides. I stripped the website bare and rebuilt it myself from scratch using wix templates. I then commissioned a graphic designer to create the smiling car logo that has been the face of my company for nearly a year. Once the website and logo were done, I purchased a car, incorporated my company to become Rachel’s Rides Co., obtained livery insurance and replaced my car’s regular New Jersey license plates with Massachusetts livery ones,” Abramowitz said.

Like Rachel’s Rides, SplitMyTaxi, run by David Zadok, a Brandeis MBA graduate, offers students in the Boston area a cheaper transportation option in the evening hours.

“Since there’s no public transportation at night in Boston, my only way to get home is by taxi. So whenever I need to get home, I try to find someone going the same way. SplitMyTaxi makes it much easier! Also, when going to the airport with a suitcase, it’s much easier to take a taxi than to carry your suitcase around trains and buses,” Zadok said.

SplitMyTaxi is similar to Rachel’s Rides because it encourages the bundling of riders in order to lower each rider’s individual transportation cost. This method of bundling promotes both a social and a wallet-friendly taxi atmosphere for students on a tight budget.

“[SplitMyTaxi is] the best way to save 50 percent on your fare and meet new people,” Zadok said.

Zadok is looking forward to launching SplitMyTaxi’s business and website within the next several days.

Although transportation options remain limited at Brandeis, Rachel’s Rides and SplitMyTaxi are excellent examples of student-run car services that cater exclusively to students.

In addition to student-run car services, the Student Union regularly offers Turkey Shuttle services to students before break periods at reasonable prices to popular destinations such as South Station and Logan Airport in Boston and Penn Station in New York City.


CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misspelled David Zadok’s name.