Nite Ride to switch routes

BY HAYLEY BRUCE | MARCH 23, 2011 7:20 AM

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Next semester, Nite Ride will drop its Thursday downtown route and switch to the academic route, according to a University of Iowa police official.

The change comes after UI Student Government President John Rigby discussed expanding the routes, adding another vehicle, and providing a transportation option for male students with UI Crime Prevention Specialist Alton Poole just before spring break.

The requests reflected some student concerns, Rigby said.

At Tuesday's UISG meeting, Poole said the switch will allow female students to be picked up at any UI building, parking lot, or ramp within UI boundaries.

Guards found they were getting more calls from patrons at academic buildings who didn't want to walk to the single downtown pickup location at the intersection of Clinton and Washington Streets.

"We thought it was unreasonable and unacceptable," Poole said. "Why not switch to the academic route and give that student an opportunity to have a ride?"

Extended library and IMU hours also contributed to the decision, he said.

While the department did not propose any plans to add a new vehicle — funds for the $66,000 program have diminished since December 2010 — Poole said the department will continue to approach the Parents Association for more funding.

Poole also said the UI police will not add a gender-neutral option for Nite Ride, because it poses a liability for the university.

"What if a male rider stalks a female?" he said. "… What if he followed her home and accosted her? I think the general public would argue that we facilitated that crime because we allowed that male rider to get on the bus, follow her home, and commit a crime."

But Poole said a Nite Ride driver will never leave a male who requests a ride. Instead, the driver will notify a police officer who will make provisions for the student to get home, most likely by calling a taxi.

"There are provisions to accommodate everyone and to make sure everyone is safe," Poole said.
UISG Vice President Erica Hayes said the group was satisfied with Poole's proposal and how receptive he was to their suggestions.

"I think there's a demand for having academic route pickups on Thursday nights, and that will be well-received [by students]," she said. "I've been in that position myself before, and I think it's great, because ultimately, we're an academic institution, and I think that that proposal is highly appropriate."

Rigby agreed Poole's proposal met the needs they discussed over break and said he hopes future UISG members push to adapt Nite Ride to reflect expansions at the UI.

"I think our university is changing, it's growing — not only our enrollment but our campus — so I think over time they're going to have to go back and reassess the routes and ridership and what's working and what's not."

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