Raider Rides Introduces New ‘Rapid Rides’ Local Ride-Sharing Service

Raider Rides, a student-run ride-sharing company, recently announced its newest service, Rapid Rides. The new program allows Colgate University students to schedule rides provided by other students to areas around Hamilton at an affordable rate.

The idea for shorter-distance ride-sharing began when senior Akhil Giri came to the Raider Rides team after having offered his own services for $5 per ride through the app YikYak. Having reached 100 drivers, Raider Rides founders—seniors Jordan Klein, Eli Yadidi and Thomas Johnson — knew they had the capability to expand their services. The trio had predicted enough demand and driver availability to take Giri’s suggestion, and as students returned to campus for the start of the Spring semester, the new offering launched on Jan. 27.

Yadidi noted his own experience with Colgate’s Cruiser service as evidence of the necessity for more reliable and faster transit over short distances.

“I remember as a freshman, I used to take the shuttle to the bookstore and then go out from there. […] This provides an alternative to the shuttle that’s more reliable,” Yadidi said. “We’ve kind of recognized that there’s this demand for people who want rides in and out of town just at night.”

After testing an initial $20 price per ride over the program’s first weekend, which began Jan. 27, each ride moving forward will cost $5 per person with a $10 minimum. To order a Rapid Ride, students should go to the Raider Rides Instagram (@raiderrides) and check their story, where a phone number through which a Rapid Ride can be requested will be made available.

“If one of them’s already taken, you can just go down to the next [phone] number. And hopefully, you know, eventually, we’ll have enough drivers where there would never be overlaps and everyone will be able to get a ride when they want,” Johnson said. 

Those getting a Rapid Ride quickly pay through a Venmo code posted in each car. 

“The way to pay for a Rapid Ride is very simple. […] Step one is going to be ‘scan this QR code.’ Step two is mentioning your driver’s name in the comment. Step three, enjoy your ride. Very, very simple. Of course, we’re going to encounter problems, but that’s just part of it. But ideally, you’ll be able to hop in a car with four friends, and each pay $5 for a ride at the hill on a freezing cold night,” Klein said.

On its opening weekend, the Rapid Rides services provided five total rides to a number of Colgate students.

Raider Rides began in 2021 as a service to shuttle students to and from travel hubs during breaks. Students must schedule rides ahead of time and have the opportunity to share their rides for lower fares. In contrast, the addition of Rapid Rides brings students the unique ability to call drivers for an on-demand ride during select weekends, according to Johnson. 

“The way Raider Rides started was I lived with five football players, and one of them [Ryan Cekay] needed a ride—they’re all on the same schedule, so there’s no Colgate-affiliated ride service to take him to the airport in a pinch. And basically, I had to drive to the airport quickly and on my way home, I was thinking, ‘Colgate needs a way to help not only Ryan get to the airport in a pinch, but for people like Thomas and like Eli, who are from Chicago and Los Angeles, who don’t know people and it’s hard to get a ride from the airport to Colgate.’ It’s usually a hassle to get to the airport, so there needed to be a student-led initiative to do that. And we did it. And then it’s basically just grown from there,” Klein said. 

Raider Rides then quickly established its presence on campus, as seen by its increase in ridership over the years.

“We advertised through Instagram, we made flyers, we tabled [at the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop)] a few times, basically until the point where we were known around campus by sophomores and freshmen who would keep coming to us back for rides,” Klein said. “We built on that momentum this summer and now we’re breaking records every weekend, we’re getting to numbers like 40, 50, 60 riders in a weekend, which is just crazy.” 

As one of Rapid Rides’ first official drivers, junior Jonah Feldman gave rides from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. one night over the inaugural weekend. He noted his pleasant experience as a driver helping out students during some of the coldest nights of the year.

“It was great,” Feldman said. “Jordan, Eli and Thomas are so easy to work with and are super helpful answering any questions. It was also a fun experience getting to meet people while driving. It’s an easy way to make money on campus while helping people get home.”

Jessie Zehner, another driver for Raider Rides, echoed Feldman’s statements. As a friend of Yadidi, Johnson, and Klein, she initially joined to help them out on their venture.

“Ultimately, [I] realized it was a great, flexible and easy way to make money on a schedule that works for me,” Zehner said. “It’s so convenient and very organized, [and] a great way to meet students in other grades and social spaces that you may not otherwise.”

While Klein expressed some uncertainty about what the future could hold, he spoke positively about his team’s ability to work through any challenges that arise with the new service.

“What might go well this weekend could go entirely wrong the next. We’re just very good at being resilient, putting our heads down and working on whatever problem it is. That’s how we’ve gotten so good at pairing our rides, staying in tune with customers— it’s because we’ve just done it so much. Now, we know what to tell people, we know how to assuage fears. We’re a reliable service now around campus and people recognize that,” Klein said. 

After working through challenges to first create their business and then expand it, Johnson, Yadidi and Klein all had advice to pass on to other Colgate students looking to embark on their own problem-solving ventures. 

“I’d say do it. Do it with people you like and do it on something that you’re passionate about so you don’t give up early— because we had a lot of obstacles early on that we easily could have quit. But I think with the group we had, and our passion for the projects, we really believed in it. We saw there was a need on the campus so we thought it could eventually work out. I think if you’re with the right people and you have the right mindset, you’ve got to do it. And you can’t be scared,” Johnson said.

“I’d say if you’re doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable, then you’re doing something right,” Yadidi said.

“I would say Colgate is a very open environment to fixing problems on campus—a lot more open than you think. And I think with the right mindset, I think you can fix anything that you see as a problem on this campus. Not even with the help of the University. I think it’s very open for students to take the initiative themselves. It’s a lot easier than you think,” Klein said.