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May 15, 2012

Students defend SafeRide at SG forum

A small group of students voiced their concerns with proposed changes to the SafeRide service last night at an open forum with representatives from the University’s Department of Transportation and SG.

Earlier this year, administrators announced that door-to-door SafeRide service will be suspended in the fall for all of the next academic year. Instead, a pilot program will add new evening shuttle routes and expand on existing ones to eliminate long wait times. The evening shuttles will also have longer hours, operating from 5 p.m. until 4 a.m. most of the week. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, the shuttles will run until 6 a.m.

Even though Director of Transportation and Parking Theresa Fletcher Brown said that her department had worked with students on the Transportation and Safety Advisory Board and utilized the student group Eckhardt Consulting, some students at the forum said that they felt cut out of the decision to eliminate the service.

“I feel that the students were not included in their decision. Our feedback was not solicited,” said Ria Marcia, a graduate student in economics. She added that without SafeRide she felt it would be dangerous to walk to her apartment.

Nicola Barham, a graduate student in the division of the humanities, also expressed concern that female students in particular would be impacted by the change.

“I feel that it would be a shame to remove SafeRide, especially for women who have to walk alone or for those who live very far,” she said.

Second-year Rohan Manthani, the Undergraduate Liaison to the Board of Trustees-elect, proposed that in addition to the new routes, there should be at least one SafeRide shuttle for students whose apartments do not fall on those routes, but that is not part of the current plan.

Fletcher Brown said that the pilot program was an economically feasible way of providing late night transportation for students. Both Fletcher-Brown and Assistant Director of Transportation and Parking Service Brandon Dodd emphasized that student perspectives were essential to understanding the needs and priorities of the student body.

“We are looking to make significant changes to improve the system,” Fletcher Brown said.

Regardless of the eventual solution, Bartham said that she simply wants to feel safe walking home at night.

“I just want some way of getting home,” she said.

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