Aug 11, 2020

College shuttle service doesn’t deliver

Photo illustration by Michael Uribes

University Express, an online company that claims to “provide weekend shuttle service exclusively for college students,” is allegedly a fraud.

Two Fresno State students bought tickets from last year and were supposed to be picked up at University Express’ “pick up location” at the west side of the campus’ parking lot D near the Henry Madden Library.

“I bought a ticket, and they never picked me up,” said a biology major who requested anonymity. “I paid $270 for a season pass in late September.”

The University Express website advertises 5 round trips to all Bay Area stops for $270 from UC Merced and CSU Fresno, and notes that the student has one calendar year in which to take these round trips. The website is the inexpensive “build your own” variety available from GoDaddy, Yahoo and many other domain host companies.

The student planned to take her first trip to San Jose State. The other student paid $50 for a bogus round-trip ticket to San Diego State. Both students are in their freshman year.

One student tried calling the phone number displayed on the website, but was unable to reach anyone (repeated phone calls to the same number by The Collegian — the last being April 26 — were unanswered), so she sent an e-mail requesting a refund.

University Express replied to her e-mail, saying that by the end of December she would have her money back. “I still haven’t had my money sent back,” she said.

The student said that she e-mailed them one last time in January.

“They never e-mailed me back,” she said.

The Collegian e-mailed University Express last month requesting a response to allegations that students were being ripped off. A reply on March 29 from someone identified as “Smith” from said, “Thank you. We will contact you shortly.” Four weeks later, there has been no contact.

On the University Express “about us” page is a slogan that says, “Sit back and relax and leave the driving to University Express.” There are two glowing “recommendations” at the bottom of the page.

Whether “Gerry W.” or “Cristian M.” actually exists is unknown.

Amy Armstrong, public information officer for the University Police Department, was asked if UPD had been contacted by students about problems with University Express. She referred The Collegian to Lieutenant Lupe Canales-Shrum of UPD’s Patrol Operations. An e-mail sent to Lt. Canales-Shrum on April 11 received no response.

Danielle Gilbert asked “Is Go University legit?” last fall on the opinion page of The Collegian. She had e-mailed University Express “multiple times to inquire about expenses, destinations, and ride fares and received no response.” The last line of her story said, “But one can only hope that Go University Express is the real deal.”

The student we interviewed said that she has given up hope.

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