MTD app allows requests for SafeRides

By Luis Velazquez, Staff Writer

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District has recently released a SafeRides app for the campus community, which can be used to request a SafeRide. However, students are still able to order a ride through the SafeRides number.

The purpose of SafeRides is to provide safe transportation to students who are traveling alone when there is a lack of other transportation methods, such as buses.

Autumn Soliman, marketing manager for SafeRides, said in an email she is glad about the recent launch of the SafeRides app.

“Our team of planners worked very closely with developers from RouteMatch Software to design the MTD Connect app servicing SafeRides,” Soliman said.

Riders can now search “MTD Connect” in both Apple or Android stores and download the app for free. After downloading the app, users must create an account to use it. The app allows individuals to submit their preferred destination address, which functions similar to how one would do with Uber or Lyft.

“The app removes the guesswork from booking a SafeRide. By entering an origin and destination, the app pulls the geographic data of the boundaries and the fixed-route service to determine SafeRides eligibility,” Soliman said. “Users do not need to call to ask if a SafeRide is available. They can simply enter their address and, if eligible, their van will be on its way with a trackable ETA at their fingertips.”

SafeRides does not provide services to and from bars or to medical facilities during an emergency. The maximum wait time is two minutes, and vans will not accept more than three riders at one pickup location.

“The rides are restricted to the SafeRides boundaries, which are approximately south of University (and) Church down to Windsor, and east of State (and) Neil Street to Vine,”  Soliman said. “SafeRides does not duplicate our fixed-route bus service so if a bus is available nearby, riders will be directed to the nearest bus stop serving their trip.”

SafeRides stops previously used — the Illini Union, Armory & Wright and Illinois Residence Hall — are no longer in service as a result of the app.

Nadia Mendez, sophomore in LAS, was not aware of  certain SafeRides policies. Mendez tried to get a SafeRides from a movie theater, but she was told her location was not within their acceptable range. However, Mendez is planning on using the new app because she believes getting a SafeRide will be easier with the app.

“Now that I know there’s an app, I will most likely use SafeRides in the future. Before, I was always a bit wary about calling in because I wasn’t quite sure what to say or how it worked, but now I’ll have all the information on my phone,” Mendez said.

Soliman emphasized this MTD service is a safe ride, not necessarily a fast ride.

“Time estimates may change due to demand, and as a ride-share service, SafeRides does not operate on a first-come, first-serve basis,” Soliman said.

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