RubyRide offers innovative car service to students, community

Eric Whitten, one of a dozen Ruby Ride drivers, will be making the last stop of his shift at Ruby Ride’s home base near ASU's SkySong Center. Whitten typically makes around ten stops a day, and says new drivers are joining Ruby Ride daily. Ruby Ride’s services are available to anyone, but specifically cater to ASU faculty and students through discounts and destinations. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

Eric Whitten, one of a dozen Ruby Ride drivers, will be making the last stop of his shift at Ruby Ride’s home base near ASU’s SkySong Center. Whitten typically makes around ten stops a day, and says new drivers are joining Ruby Ride daily. Ruby Ride’s services are available to anyone, but specifically cater to ASU faculty and students through discounts and destinations. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

A personalized driver service RubyRide  is partnering with ASU to offer ASU students free rides to the Polytechnic Campus and TechShop in Chandler.

Students will be able to hop a free and comfortable ride to TechShop at ASU Innovation Center from the Polytechnic and Tempe campuses starting this week.

Venture Manager at ASU Entrepreneurship and Innovation group Tracy Lea said the collaboration with RubyRide that will provide students with transportation to Techshop is a big deal. Techshop started offering free membership to full-time ASU students this semester, and it was crucial to establish the connection, she said.

“We didn’t have any transportation system set-up for students to get from the campus to that location, which is important for them to do product development and prototyping, and really flesh out their idea,” Lea said.

RubyRide partnered with ASU’s Scottsdale Innovation Center, SkySong, this summer and received general tools, space for a team station and investment opportunities as a part of the ASU Startup Accelerator program.

ASU’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Collaboration makes sure young start-ups are well supported by creating a community around entrepreneurship, Lea said.

(Left to right) Marketing director Elissa Villicana, founder and CEO Jeff Ericsson, the founder and CEO and sales agent Gerrit Mack pose at ASU Sky Song in Scottsdale. (Photo by Ksenia)

(Left to right) Marketing director Elissa Villicana, founder and CEO Jeff Ericsson, the founder and CEO and sales agent Gerrit Mack pose at ASU Sky Song in Scottsdale. (Photo by Ksenia Maryasova)

“Their ventures can take flight,” she said. “It shows they can dream and have these dreams come to reality. By offering transportation solutions now to our ASU students to be able to try to build up their dreams as well via opportunities at TechShop, I think it’s a win-win.”

RubyRide is a local innovative driver service that stands out from Lyft and Uber by offering subscription-based plans, personalized limousine-like service and scheduled, reliable trips.

Jeff Ericson, RubyRide CEO and ASU alumnus, founded the company to give people the freedom of getting around using the available technology, he said.

“I think for a lot of people, they like the comfort level that they can get where they need to go, that they can rely on us,” Ericson said. “That’s really the whole point of that relationship.”

An ability to schedule time and location of usual daily pick-ups simplifies the service for customers, while unforeseen trips can be requested on demand through the app.

The idea for an innovative transportation service appeared when Ericson was looking for efficient ways to get around spread-out cities like Phoenix that force people to use cars. Additionally, public transportation is not very convenient and causes a loss of productivity, he said.

The company name is an allusion to Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and her ruby slippers, a representation of the idea that getting home can be simple.

“Our goal is to be simple,” Ericson said. ”We want to be the easiest way to get around town as possible, so that you don’t have to worry how you’re going to go or how you’re going to get there. You just know where you’re going to go and we handle all the details.”

(Photo Courtesy of Ruby Ride)

(Photo Courtesy of Ruby Ride)

By promoting a new transportation lifestyle of getting around efficiently without owing a car, RubyRide eases the life of a commuter as well as of a student. Extended operating hours for students from 6 a.m. to 3 a.m. cover morning classes, allow students to run errands and enjoy night-time activities.

ASU alumna Elissa Villicana, marketing director at RubyRide, said they mainly compete against car owners and try to introduce residents to a new way of getting around town.

“With RubyRide, we are kind of that happy medium that you no longer need to use a car, but you can still get around effectively treating that as your vehicle,” she said.

Monthly plans for $299 include unlimited rides at operating hours within the zoning area and allow free carpools. Although the company doesn’t compete directly against other driver services, RubyRide’s formula outbids Uber X and Lyft prices, Villicana said.

The subscription-based concept is designed to simplify the life of a customer through monthly installments. Although the statistics reveal that car owners spend around $500-700 on a vehicle a month on depreciation, insurance, and fuel, a RubyRide monthly plan of $299 is not always easily accepted.

“When you do the $299 a month and you’re presenting that to ASU students, that immediately sounds expensive,” Villicana said. “But when you do the breakdown for them, you’re talking about $10 a day for unlimited rides, that’s what it comes out to.”

Accepting this can take time, but once it’s adopted, it’ll become second nature, Villicana said.

RubyRide has an orchestrated fleet of eco-friendly hybrids, and by giving service to nine customers, it is able to take nine cars off the road a day.

(Photo Courtesy of Ruby Ride)

(Photo Courtesy of Ruby Ride)

“Making sure the service is good for the community because we operate on hybrids, but not only that,” she said. “We are moving not so gas-friendly cars off the road.”

RubyRide makes sure the company owned fleet undergoes maintenance routinely, and the drivers are background-checked and drug-tested to prioritize customers’ safety and comfort.

While growth and brand recognition in Phoenix are of the highest priority, RubyRide offers free trial rides without being “gimmicky.”

“Once we get someone inside the vehicle, if that’s doing a free trial with us or maybe committing for a week, 40 percent of them will move forward with actually utilizing the service for their ongoing needs,” Villicana said. “Because they realize there’s no other service like this out there that can do the same thing that RubyRide can.”

Although chemistry senior Geoff Coppola owns a car, he prefers RubyRide to get from home to the University and to his office.

“I feel like a prince,” Coppola said. “I use it several times a day. It’s beyond convenient.”

Correction: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated the details of the partnership between RubyRide and ASU.

Reach the reporter at kmaryaso@asu.edu or follow on Twitter @KseniaMaryasova