Safe Ride proves to be useful resource
So far this semester the Safe Ride appears to be the most successful transportation innovation on campus, however, there have been several instances of students not understanding and abusing the privilege of the service.
According to Patrick Linfante, assistant vice president for Public Safety and Security, calls have been made to the Safe Ride dispatch requesting rides from the South Orange train station or Rite Aid, which are scheduled stops on the SHUfly route.
“We provide an additional service to those students that traverse area that is not on the SHUfly route,” Linfante said. “And that is sometimes misunderstood by some of the students.”
The entirely of South Orange Avenue is part of the SHUfly route, Linfante confirmed.
Linfante said that the Safe Ride will take students as short a distance as one block from front gate to the right, because that’s not on the SHUFLY route.
According to Linfante, during the past week a female student called Public Safety from Rite Aid and requested a Safe Ride to take her to Ivy Hill.
The Safe Ride manager said to take the SHUfly, to which the student she said she felt threatened.
Public Safety called the South Orange Police and picked up the student, but sent the police first.
The SOPD found no signs of threat in the area at the time.
“They were called because we were told they felt unsafe,” Linfante said. “We’re not going to gamble with safety of students. We told her we were sending the police.”
Junior Andrew Wampler claimed that on Wed. Nov. 9 between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. with his girlfriend near the train station he called for a Safe Ride and was treated dismissively by the dispatcher.
“Security told us tonight that the Safe Ride ‘will not pick you up at the train station,” Wampler said.
“I replied that there was no SHUFly for a bit, last time we waited for the tardy SHUFly, we were approached by a suspicious man before the SHUFly finally showed, and his sarcastic response was that there was nothing he could do and we would have to wait.'”
Upon a replay of the recorded phone conversation from that night via the office of Public Safety and Security, it was concluded that the dispatcher did not make that statement nor did Wampler make any statement that he felt threatened.
“That’s why I find this disconcerting and maybe a little bit ingenuine (sic) by some of these students,” Linfante said. “Because for anybody who’s been here for any length of time, the thing that’s always been the same with CASE and now with Safe Ride is that [it will provide service] as long as it’s not on the SHUFly route.”
Linfante said he does not believe the dispatcher was sarcastic, and that he was in fact businesslike.
“More often than not – I can’t say we’ve never been wrong, we certainly make our mistakes – that’s the typical type of call,” Linfante said. “We’ll get a call and the way they remember it is out of frame of reference that they didn’t get what they want, so they’re unhappy.”
Despite encounters such as this, numbers show a strong usage of the Safe Ride by the University community.
Linfante said that allowing the Safe Ride to overlap the SHUFly route is being unfair to those who cannot use SHUFly because their destinations are not on the SHUFly route, such as the Ivy Hill and Turrell Manor apartments, and they do not have another option.
According to Linfante, the CASE van had 2,766 riders in the 2010-2011 school year, while the Safe Ride has recorded 4,145 riders in this semester alone.
From Monday Nov. 7 to Sunday Nov. 13, 634 Safe Rides were made.
“There is a significant difference,” Linfante said. “I think students see the value in it and appreciate it. We got a lot of compliments. Students are very complimentary and we are happy to provide it.”
There is one safe ride van per night that can hold ten passengers. According to Linfante, on Thursdays they add an extra six-passenger van.
Also according to Linfante, there were 97 riders this past Thursday, 207 this past Friday, and 153 on Saturday within the Safe Ride zone, which is an approximate geographical area determined by where students frequent.
“Every time I call it seems like the SHUFly is on a driver break.” Wampler said.
“I know they can’t work with every train, but on the weekends it’s every hour, maybe the drivers could take a break in between,” Wampler added. “I don’t know how it works, what system they have, but there’s no way around it.”
Linfante said that there is “never a reason” for students to walk to their destinations or back to campus.
Charlotte Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.