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Free cab service helpful for students, fun for drivers

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Not too many people can say they’ve shuttled a flock of tutu wearing football players around, but for Carol Grethen, it’s just another Saturday night.

Grethen, a Drake Direct driver who is well known for calling passengers “hun,” said that it is moments like that that make her truly love her job.

Having worked for the company for six years now, Grethen is chalked full of funny stories of students’ late-night antics, though she asserts that the tutu incident from two Halloweens ago takes the cake.

“That’s just something I’m always going to remember,” Grethen said with a laugh.

The service is free to all Drake students and can be used for any number of reasons – if it’s too cold, if you’re too nervous to walk by yourself or if you’re just too lazy to trek across campus. That’s where Grethen and the rest of the Drake Direct staff come in.

Late-night student taxi services have been growing in popularity on campuses everywhere. They guarantee students a safe ride home and have even cut down on potentially harmful situations.

“I work (for Drake Direct) because I want to make sure those kids get home OK,” Grethen said.

Drake University’s taxi service, now contracted through Trans Iowa, wasn’t always the transportation system for Drake students. Prior to Drake Direct, Drake offered a bus system entitled Safe Ride, where members of the security staff ferried around riders. Three times an hour the bus would stop at designated spots, making a complete loop every 20 minutes.

“Students decided they didn’t want to wait so long or would want to make more stops along the way,” Tricia McKinney, assistant director of campus security, said. “They thought our system was too rigid, so they came up with their own idea to contract through Trans Iowa.”

Now the service runs nightly from 7:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., with the exception of fall, winter and spring breaks. However, these hours are extended to 3 a.m. during both finals weeks and Drake Relays week.

Unlike the Safe Ride program, Drake Direct will pick passengers up anywhere and take them directly to the front door of the riders’ destination, provided their pick-up and drop-off points are within the boundaries. The service goes as far north of campus as Clark Street, east to 22nd Street, south to Kingman Boulevard, and west to 35th Street.

“However, Drake Direct does not do bar pick-ups or drop-offs,” McKinney said. “It’s for poor weather, or if you’re alone and don’t want to walk somewhere by yourself. It’s more of a safety ride.”

Hailing the service is as simple as calling 515-282-8111 and flashing your Drake ID.

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1 Comment

  1. Rocky January 25, 2012

    Love the service, but reporter should be informed that Gretchen is “chock full” of stories, not “chalked full” of them.

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