Panthers who don’t own a car and others who just want to use their gas guzzlers less frequently have an easy, free option for short-distance trips to and from MMC. And now they’ll even ride in style.
The Freebee service, which offers free rides to students, has replaced its open-air electric shuttles with a fleet of six Tesla Model Xs.
The new cars are revolutionizing the way students without transportation go shopping, visit nearby friends, or return to main campus from the Engineering Center.
“The Tesla Freebee rides are perfect for our students,” said Tom Hartley, assistant vice president of parking and transportation at FIU. “Not everyone has a car and owning a car is expensive, especially in Miami. It’s critical for us to help provide a community where you can live and work without having to have a car.
Free on-demand ride services are available to the entire CRF community through the Ride Freebee app. Trips up to about three miles, as long as they start or end at the MMC or Engineering Center, cost nothing while reducing congestion and emissions.
The new electric vehicles align with the university’s goal of reducing its carbon footprint and creating a more sustainable campus environment. To this end, the FIU has installed at MMC, BBC and the Engineering Center a total of 16 electric vehicle charging stations available for the nominal price of $1 per hour, with plans to add more as needed, and 11 free tire inflation stations to increase the fuel efficiency of Panthers vehicles. And TThe Parking & Transportation team plans to replace the existing buses that run between MMC and BBC with newer, greener versions.
Hartley expects an increase of up to 30% in the current number of Freebee trips since the Tesla upgrade. Freebee, which has served the FIU since 2020, currently offers around 5,000 trips to the Panthers per month.
“It’s really about safety, comfort, productivity and efficiency,” Hartley said, noting that previous vehicles had a top speed of 25 miles per hour and had to take slower back roads, and were also open-top vehicles, which exposed riders to unpredictable weather changes. “Being able to keep people safe on campus is huge, especially when you don’t know what he will do next.”
Aaliyah Mesidort, a junior who studies biology and has used Freebee frequently, loves the service. “Freebee is very convenient for people who don’t have a car, especially when trying to get groceries. It definitely takes a load off your back,” she said. “Teslas make it even better: they have air conditioning, can go on major roads, look cooler and are always free.”