STORY BY JAKE BULLINGTON
A new service at Drake, Safe Ride, has been carting students around campus and the Drake neighborhood.
This isn’t the first time a service like this has existed. About a decade ago, Drake had a shuttle service, which then evolved into a taxi service called Drake Direct.
However, according to Director of Campus Public Safety Scott Law, over the last three or four years, rides had dropped off significantly. Safe Ride has done much better than Drake Direct has in terms of ridership.
“In the first week, we exceeded the total number of rides that (Drake Direct) did last year,” said Law.
Safe Ride reached 50 rides just in the first night of operation, when it was only first-year students on campus. The reception and usage of Safe Ride was far from expected.
“I’m pretty surprised,” said Law.
The two shuttle buses were bought used using the existing public safety budget provided by the university.
“If we’re going to offer the service, we have to offer it at all times,” said Law, explaining the need for two buses, instead of just one. “If one bus has to get repaired or has to go down for any length of time, we have the second bus to back it up.”
However, meeting students’ needs and staying within budget is a balancing act—one that Public Safety aims to maintain effectively.
“We’re careful not to spend student money in a way that doesn’t make sense,” said Law.
It also leaves room for expansion of the vehicle fleet, which may be inevitable considering the success Safe Ride has had with students so far this year.
“In general, the students really like the idea,” said Law.
Drake Public Safety is currently keeping an hour-by-hour record of how many students ride the bus, to accurately gauge how to alter routes and adjust to the rising demand.
The initial perception of Safe Ride may be that it is simply just another ‘drunk taxi’ service, but Law says it is much more than what meets the eye.
“We’re hoping it’s a regular thing students use for many reasons,” said Law. “They can take the bus to go home…students are using it to get from the library to their cars. Our goal is to get (students) back and forth as safely as possible.”
The bus runs late into the night, but if students find themselves out past the bus times, Public Safety is continuing to give rides late in the night.
Students can visit drake.edu/bus to see a real-time GPS location of the bus, available on both mobile and desktop browsers.