There are so many struggles when it comes to getting around a big campus like UConn, even for students with cars. Students’ bank accounts feel the burn from $8 Ubers to travel 1 mile across campus, paying for cover at Huskies and rides there and back, and expensive parking passes and tickets. Luckily, junior Andi Duro thinks he has found a solution.
Duro’s ridesharing app made for the Storrs campus, GogoDoggo, went live on the Apple and Android app stores this past week. The app charges $1 per head for rides anywhere on campus (including Storrs Center) and an additional $1 for every mile traveled off-campus. The off-campus rides will cover anywhere less than 10 minutes away from campus. There are over 40 pre-programmed pickup locations, and users can submit requests for more locations on the app website. Riders can pay using Venmo, cash, or “treats” generated by referrals, which are equivalent to a $1 credit to be put towards a ride. Anyone is welcome to use the app, undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty/staff alike. Users will be able to book rides immediately or days in advance, which eliminates the stress of finding and paying for a ride to an appointment, meeting, etc.
To become a driver for GogoDoggo, applicants go through a rigorous process to be approved. Drivers must first have a valid driver’s license and insurance. In addition, they must complete a driving test, vehicle test, reporting requirements test (to ensure that drivers are aware of the rules for reporting incidents), and a geography test of the campus. There are also expectations set for riders that are outlined on the app website. Notably, drivers will accept drunk riders. However, anyone who vomits during the ride will be charged a fee, similar to Uber and Lyft.
A user can sign in or make an account in less than two minutes using only their phone number. From then on, they can immediately begin requesting rides. Riders can choose how many people will be in the car, the payment method, as well as the mood they prefer for the ride, which adjusts for whether the rider is in the mood to talk. Also, the system generates a pickup location based on the rider’s location on campus, which minimizes confusion that is common when ordering Uber or Lyft rides.
So, why should you download GogoDoggo? Duro says, “Uber and Lyft are wildly expensive compared to GogoDoggo. The minimum ride on Uber starts at around $6 while Gogo rides start at $1.” Also, GogoDoggo drivers are UConn students that know the campus better than strangers, so taking a ride with them is supporting your fellow Huskies. GogoDoggo also consolidates riders and users on one platform. Duro says GogoDoggo is meant to be the successor to Sober Rides, which would usually be posted on Buy or Sell UConn Tickets, UConn’s largest Facebook group. In fact, Duro has been speaking to many Sober Rides drivers to get them on board as drivers for GogoDoggo.
Duro is a computer science major from Rocky Hill, CT but was originally born in Milan, Italy. His motivation to create the app stemmed from his experiences that every UConn student can relate to. “As someone who walked around campus a lot for classes and also for fun, there were certainly times where I wished I could just teleport back to my dorm or a dining hall, especially when it suddenly rained or when it gets cold and icy in the winter,” he says. As reasons for using the app, Duro says that students could get a bike or skateboard, but neither of those solutions would be logical in the winter. The bus is also an option, but the bus schedule and stops aren’t convenient for everyone and the timing doesn’t always work out if you’re late. For Duro, he says “this is one of the main benefits of running an app like GogoDoggo: I can add, move, or remove stops almost instantaneously to meet the changing needs of a diverse student body.”
Duro also has prior experience applying his expertise as a computer science major. This is his third app published, the first one being a cryptocurrency wallet in 2014 for Android and the second being a Mac app that shows you messages you forgot to reply to, in 2017. The idea for GogoDoggo came to him in 2017 when he first came to campus. He took a gap year this semester to work on the app full time after creating the app and backend platform by himself over the summer. In terms of challenges he encountered, Duro says, “the hardest part was dealing with legal issues – I had a lot of back and forth with my lawyer to establish the company and make sure I’m following the applicable ridesharing laws, as well as staying within the guidelines for the App Store and Play Store.”
As a student himself, Duro knows firsthand the concerns of students living on a big campus like Storrs. GogoDoggo would come in handy for a multitude of situations. But, rides will not begin until the app hits 300 users- so, download the app today in the Apple or Android app stores!
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