SafeRides: Not a free taxi service

By Rachel Lenoci, Staff Writer

The Champaign­Urbana Mass Transit District has provided more than 32,450

SafeRides to the community since July 1, 2015.

The service was created in 1989 when the University and MTD teamed up to make late-
night transportation available to students on campus. Before then, SafeRides was

originally called WomanRides, which was a similar service that was operated by

women, for women.

Today, the service is a door­to­door transportation system free to both men and women

on campus.Citizens of the C­U area can also use this service, provided they pay a fee

of $1 and are in the SafeRide boundaries.

Many students who try to use the system will be rejected if they are near a bus route.

“I want people to use SafeRides if the buses aren’t going to take them there, if they’re

by themselves,” said Amy Snyder, customer service manager for MTD. “I don’t want

people using SafeRides when they’re a block away from a bus and they’re going to a

dorm.”

SafeRides is very time consuming because of its drop­off system, making it difficult for

them to care for everyone in a timely manner. This is why they encourage students to

use the bus system.

“What I’m concerned about is the expectations people have,” Snyder said. “The service

is called SafeRides. It’s not called ‘FastRides,’ and people get frustrated with how long

they’re on the van.”

Even though some users may get irritated with the time it takes to get home, Snyder

said SafeRides is well­promoted and used. Students have even asked for more

SafeRide services when the contract between the University and Champaign­Urbana

MTD got renewed.

While the number of SafeRides being used seems high, many students have not used

the free service because it seems inconvenient.

“I haven’t really needed to. I usually just take the bus or walk,” said Rachel Magnus,

junior in Media. “I think it’s good to have for people that feel unsafe using Ubers or

buses.”

Farya Haider, freshman in LAS, said she would use SafeRides but has never had the

need.

“I definitely think it’s a good program,” Haider said. “It’s really reliable, and it’s necessary

sometimes in situations that you might not expect yourself to be in or just a time when

you don’t have any other method of transportation.”

Students should not regard SafeRides as a free taxi service; instead, they should use it

when they need help. Taking advantage of this transportation system could be taking

away from someone on campus who actually needs a SafeRide.

“I think students should take SafeRides to maintain their safety and keep the campus

safe,” Snyder said. “Nobody should be in a situation where they feel vulnerable.”

SafeRides covers the campus area, including areas where graduate students live and

pockets of campus with no fixed bus routes. The starting times for service operation

depend on daylight savings time, but SafeRides is offered from dusk until 6:30 a.m.

Students in need of a SafeRide should call (217) 265­7433 and provide their names,

numbers and locations.

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