August 31, 2009

Illinois university launches safe ride program

The University of Illinois Champaign Urbana has begun offering students who are traveling alone without a safe means of transportation a late night bus service .

SafeRides is operated by the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District (CUMTD) by the use of student fees, and has been in effect on campus since the early 1990s.

Students who are on campus late simply dial the SafeRides number, tell the dispatcher where they are located, and one of the SafeRides minibuses will pick them up and drop them off at their desired location within the designated SafeRides boundaries.

According to Tom Costello, assistant managing director of the CUMTD, the bus service also runs throughout campus every 10 minutes, stopping at campus hot spots such as the library and the student union. On Sunday through Thursday, the service operates until 3:00 a.m. and until 5:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

There are currently six minibuses — each seating 13 — in the SafeRides fleet, says Costello. There are no plans to increase the fleet at this time.

University Police Lt. Skip Frost stresses that the service is for those in serious need of safe transportation.

“[SafeRides] is not the drunk bus,” explains Frost. “It’s for people who need safe transportation from one place to another. MTD is happy to provide that service, but if you need a ride from one party to another, you should call a friend or a cab.”

Additionally, Frost has offered tips for students who find themselves on campus during late hours:

1.    Be aware of your surroundings.
2.    Don’t walk alone. If possible, walk with a group.
3.    If it’s late, let someone know where you’re going.
4.    Always walk on well lit and well-traveled pathways.
5.    Trust your instincts.
6.    Know your drinking limit.
7.    If something does go wrong, contact campus police. They are always willing to help.

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