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UISG plans 24-hour unisex cab service

BY KRISTEN EAST | AUGUST 25, 2011 7:20 AM

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Olivier Dolce won’t have to worry about traveling safely around Iowa City late at night, but only if University of Iowa Student Government follows through with its plans.

By October, UISG officials said they hope to have plans set for a free 24-hour cab service for all students that would run seven days a week. This service would provide males the safe ride that Nite Ride only provides to females.

“There’s a need for safe transportation for males because they also can get raped and jumped,” UI freshman Dolce said. “Being a male doesn’t mean you are protected from the outside world. [The UI police’s] primary concern should be the safety of all students.”

Before UISG would be able to enter into any private contracts, however, it would need to file a request for a project proposal, UISG President Elliot Higgins said. The UISG is investigating potential partnerships with several local cab companies, but officials declined to detail any names Wednesday.

UISG Vice President Brittany Caplin said the service would not replace Nite Ride.

“By no means do we want to get rid of that program,” she said. “There’s a reason for it, and there’s a need for it.”

She did, however, acknowledge that Nite Ride and Cambus have “severe limitations.”

While Nite Ride and Cambus will only take students from on-campus to limited off-campus locations, the cab service would not limit where students could or could not go, except not stopping at homes where parties are obviously being held, Caplin said.

Although few details are official — and won’t be for several weeks — UISG officials hope to have a partnership and plan launched by late fall. UISG officials also had no estimate of what such a system would cost Wednesday.

“I think it’s an idea worth exploring,” said Tom Rocklin, the UI vice president for Student Life. “It’s definitely something we should look into.”

Rocklin was unable to comment on whether the university would help UISG cover the cost, which the group plans on absorbing, in order for the cab service to be free for students. Costs will be determined once UISG has found a partnering cab company, Caplin said.

Safety officials on campus also expressed support for the potential program.

“Whatever [UISG] can do to help students, I think the university is for it,” said David Visin, associate director of the UI police. “All services are good for our students. Anything we can do to increase student safety is one of our goals as well.”

Charles Green, the assistant vice president for the UI police, agreed.

“We need other resources out there besides Cambus or Nite Ride, and the cab service would be another option,” he said.

Though there has been discussion of adding another late-night option by both UISG and UI police for several years, funds for the $66,000 Nite Ride program have diminished since December 2010, which had prevented such changes.

“[UI police] know the limitations of Nite Ride, and if was up to them, and there were unlimited funds, they would buy a separate one for the guys and have it go everywhere,” Caplin said. “The funds aren’t there.”


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