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The Times-Delphic

The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

The Student News Site of Drake University

The Times-Delphic

Be outside, he’s ready to go: “Safe Ride John” announces retirement

JOHN LAHVIC, or “Safe Ride John” as many students know him, will be retiring from his position on Friday to spend more time with his family. PHOTO BY VERONICA MEISS | STAFF WRITER

Charismatic, caring, funny, iconic and “really freaking awesome” are all words students have used to describe John Lahvic, the Safe Ride bus driver.

Lahvic recently announced that his final ride will be on Oct. 27 after nine years in the role.

“I’m just gonna come in like it’s a normal work day,” Lahvic said. “I might get a little emotional.”

Lahvic has spent almost a decade building the Safe Ride’s reputation as a reliable and trustworthy resource on campus.

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“I had to kind of hustle for the very first year because who’s going to jump on a bus or a van that no one knows about?” Lahvic said. “I went out, and I opened the doors or rolled down the window and said ‘Hey, you guys need a ride? [I’m] going straight there.’ Of course, all the students were hesitant at first, but I just did everything I could to make this a successful program.”

Lahvic now sees 250 to 300 students a night on average during the weekend.

Many students know John as a campus celebrity because of his position as the Safe Ride weekend driver, but Lahvic originally applied to work with the Public Safety dispatch at Drake. He ultimately turned down that offer when his job at the time made a better offer to convince him to stay.

“I felt bad because I went through all the stuff with Drake, and they were gonna give me an opportunity,” Lahvic said. “I asked ‘Hey, is there a part-time job I can do?’”

The timing was perfect as Drake was looking to begin the Safe Ride program, and Lahvic signed on to be the first weekend driver. The program was started by Drake in the fall of 2015 to offer a safe alternative to walking home in the dark. The boundaries are 24th to 34th Street and Cottage Grove Ave. to College Ave.

Lahvic said it was the students that kept him at Drake for the last nine years.

“I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve got a good rapport with the students,” Lahvic said. He added that some of his favorite highlights off the bus have been in the dunk tank at the Relays carnival, participating in a footrace with a former student and judging competitions around campus such as Fraternity and Sorority Life Sweetheart Sings.

Lahvic said he will miss the relationships he’s built with students the most. 

“I [tried] to build a great relationship with everybody where I get a chance to meet [and] know who they are. I might not know what your name is right away, but I guarantee I’m gonna get to know it,” Lahvic said. “On top of that, I’m definitely gonna know where you’re from so I can drop you off and get you home in a safe way.”

Lahvic is retiring from the Safe Ride program to spend more time with family. He works a full-time job as an account manager for a security company during the day and is looking forward to spending the extra time with his family, especially at his daughter’s wedding next August.

Lahvic said it took several days to arrive at his decision.

“I just want everybody to know that this decision didn’t come easy by any means,” he said. “My wife was even sitting there saying ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ I was like ‘no,’ because I didn’t want to do this, but at the same time, I felt it was time.”

Many students are grateful for the safety and the memories that Lahvic and the Safe Ride program provide.

“I personally think [Safe Ride] adds one of the most unique aspects on a college campus. I haven’t seen anything where it’s uniquely a Safe Ride bus with a unique personality,” senior Vince Carioti said. “It’s quite literally nicknamed the John bus.”

Carioti said one of his favorite memories with Lahvic and Safe Ride is bringing his mom along for the trip. He regularly catches a ride home with Lahvic to and from his job at the West End Lounge.

“We’re all gonna miss John a great deal, and I’m just happy I got to have my time [with him],” Carioti said.

Carioti is not alone in his appreciation for Lahvic. Many students at Drake have unique memories from their time on the bus. 

“I was the first birthday story post on Drake Safe Ride’s Instagram,” junior Sarah Greiver said. “I was sitting on the bus, everyone behind me was singing happy birthday and John was holding a little phone taking a video. I’m never ever going to forget that.”

Greiver said the relationship she has built with Lahvic goes beyond getting to her destination. She appreciated the opportunity to take extended rides on the bus.

“[My first] year, I was not really in my ‘going out era,’ but I still wanted to make sure that my friends got to and from the bar safely,” Greiver said. “He would let me sit in the front seat and be on aux for hours on end. He would not kick me off.”

Students are not the only ones who express gratitude for Lahvic and the Safe Ride program. Many parents are grateful that Drake has the Safe Ride bus as a resource for their children.

“It’s so important to know that [my son is] getting where he needs to be safely,” Michelle Grogg, a Drake parent and Drake alumna, said. “So drivers like [John] are just amazing. Makes me feel really, really good as a Drake parent.”

Students who have memories with Lahvic said they will share them with students who come to Drake in the coming years.

“There is genuinely no way that we can repay [John] for everything that [he’s] done,” Greiver said. “He is and will continue to be a campus legend forever.”

Students who would like to wish Lahvic farewell can hop on the Safe Ride bus Thursday, Oct. 26 or Friday, Oct. 27 from 8 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. When you make that call, just be sure you’re outside ready to go.

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