Concerned students appeal for SafeRides service during breaks

Because SafeRides are not operating during fall and spring breaks, international students staying on campus during these times have expressed concerns about their safety.

According to an Illinois Student Senate feedback form, international students said they would feel more secure if SafeRides operated over break.

Tom Costello, assistant managing director of Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, or CUMTD, said demand for SafeRides during breaks is low.

“SafeRides is a function that’s not in great demand over breaks, and there are more efficient ways of getting folks around over break,” Costello said.

A report about student concerns is being compiled by the CUMTD and its ISS representative Jim Maskeri. Over 130 students sent him feedback about CUMTD’s services.

“Operation during breaks is something students are concerned about. They want to ensure that they’ll be safe,” Maskeri said.

SafeRides operated over breaks in 2008. There was very little demand for the program in the one year that it ran throughout fall and spring breaks, Costello explained.

“We have to look at history and see how much need there was. If it’s what students want, then that’s certainly not a problem. But there just isn’t the need,” Costello said.

Maskeri believes that although the program has not been popular in the past, it may be popular now. Publicity for SafeRides and demand for CUMTD’s services has increased over the past few years, he said.

Most ISS senators support a resolution in favor of SafeRides operation during breaks. However, SafeRides operation during these breaks will come at a price. Operation of this program is not covered under the current student fees.

Maskeri said he may propose SafeRides operation during breaks to CUMTD once his report is finished. He currently does not have a cost estimate for the implementation of this service.

Costello said CUMTD is still receptive to what students want.

“At the end of the day, if students want service over break, we can certainly do that,” he said.