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For-profit startup company Buzz Rides loses student fees money

Buzz Rides is expanding to other campuses.
Buzz Rides is expanding to other campuses.

Buzz Rides is a for-profit company started by UNC students Joey Skavroneck and Parker Draughon as a service for students who live off-campus and need transportation between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. The cars are electric and the rides are free.

In October 2013, Buzz Rides began applying for money from student government through the student safety and security committee. Buzz Rides and SafeWalk asked for $15,000 and $20,000 respectively, but the committee only had about $17,000 to give.

Josh Aristy, chairman of the finance committee, said he thinks he knows why Buzz Rides received funding.

“(The student safety and security committee) thought you know, let’s just give them some money, it’s entrepreneurship, deals with safety and security, because you know how Buzz Rides functions, so why not?” he said.

Buzz Rides received $15,000 and SafeWalk received $2,000. The decision was approved by the committee on May 6, but was not enacted because Student Body Treasurer Brittany Best froze the Student Activities Fund Account.

Best froze the money because of a possible student government code violation about giving money to a for-profit organization.

A few days later, Aristy brought up the issue of the meeting having a quorum. The committee needed five people to vote on the issue, but they only had four, mistakenly counting Best as a voting member. Aristy sent a resolution stating only the financial committee could unfreeze the accounts.

“We got approved for about $14,900, and we have not received any of that money,” Skavroneck said.

Because the meeting was voided, all decisions made no longer take effect.

Skavroneck said Buzz Rides gave 20,000 rides last year and is committed to getting students home safe.

“They have a few kinks to work out in their operations, but I think it provides such a good service for people who have an alternative to drunk driving, people who live too far away from campus and the fact that it’s free, especially,” senior Sara Carter said.

Skavroneck said Buzz Rides has a revenue plan that will keep them sustainable, but not receiving the $15,000 they asked for is disappointing.

“Our yearlong process has kind of come to that kind of bump in the road,” he said.

“So we’re still very optimistic of working with the right people to push this through and make this happen.”

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