[IMAGE]CC.jpg[/IMAGE]Following the dissolving of its free shuttle system, Conway, S.C.'s Coastal Carolina University (CCU) will launch its new Smart Ride program transportation program, on Tuesday, to encourage students to make smarter choices about drinking and driving.
"There were a lot of problems with students taking advantage of the program. We had reports of people starting fights and drinking on the shuttles, and it got to the point where the shuttle company pulled the contract because it was too much of a liability for them," explained Taylor Eubanks, executive vice president of CCU's Student Government Association (SGA). "As soon as the contract was pulled, we were immediately contacted by the administration and asked to begin looking at some of the different options."
The program, which was created by CCU's SGA in cooperation with its Alcohol Coalition, established partnerships with 12 area taxi companies to provide discounted or flat rates to students for airport rides, every day travel or for trips back to campus from local bars.
The Smart Ride program was modeled after Charleston, S.C.'s The Citadel, where incoming cadets are given a discount card that they can use for free rides any time, with no questions asked.
To publicize the program to students, SGA workers are handing out Smart Ride cards with names and numbers of the cab companies and their rates. Student riders will have to show a student ID to get the special rates.
A few of the cab companies are offering a flat rate of $25 to the airport as well as a 25 percent discount on student trips. The rest of the companies offer students a 20 percent discount.
Eubanks said that, ideally, Smart Ride's sponsors would like for students to be able to ride local taxis for free, just like The Citadel's cadet program.
"That would be the biggest thing, to come up with the funding, one way or the other, to be able to offer this as a free service," he said.
Future plans for Smart Ride include partnering with the local bars and restaurants, as well as two local alcohol distributors, to promote the program and offer students incentives, such as free sodas or appetizers for those who have a designated driver.
To this point, Eubanks said CCU is pleased with the support of the program.
"I didn't expect it to move as quickly as it has. We've actually started being contacted from some of the local restaurants and bars who heard about the program and asked for us to give them copies of the cards, so they can hand them out to their student patrons," he said. "From a community standpoint and a University standpoint, it's been an incredible reaction so far."