UI Student Government to offer free cabs


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University of Iowa Student Government leaders will soon implement a free, 24-hour, seven-days-a-week cab service, and managers at at at least one local cab companiy said they aren't fazed by their future competitor.

As part of its Wingman Safety Campaign, UISG is in the process of finding a local cab company that would be willing to let the UI sign a contract to use its vehicles.

The proposal for the cabs has already been filed in the UI Purchasing Department.

"Cabs serve a vital function, especially for safety," said Roger Bradley, the manager of Yellow Cab of Iowa City. "If it would cut down on unsafe driving, that would be a good thing. I think it's very important."

Bradley didn't think the UISG service would negatively affect other cab companies, noting that it would be an especially good opportunity for the company who ends up partnering with UISG.

Employees from Chad's Taxi and Number One Cab said they had no comment on the proposed service, and no other local companies could be reached for comment on Wednesday.

UISG started planning the free, 24-hour student cab over the summer, and it has been completing project details throughout the semester. Student leaders stressed this service will not replace Nite Ride —which only serves female students.

"It's our fix to Nite Ride," said UISG Vice President Brittany Caplin. "We love it, but it's not enough. This cab proposal is for men and women."

Caplin said student leaders filed a request a few days ago for the approval of the purchasing department and, once approved, businesses can bid on the project.

"Businesses are aware that they can bid for this," Caplin said. "They submit a huge form, and they can put a price on it."

Deborah Zumbach, the UI director of purchasing, said the UI has an electronic bid system.

"Once the bid closes there would be a time, and after that time period no vendors can submit proposals," she said. "We will then open up the bid and review the responses."

The Purchasing Department reviews bids on several evaluating criteria. In this case, purchasing officials would look at what cab companies' hourly rates would be, Zumbach said.

UISG leaders are going to allow three weeks for vendors to bid on the cab service, and price is not one of officials' concerns at this point, Caplin said.

"Ideally, we don't want to use all of our money on this, but despite what the price is, we're going to do this," she said. UISG alone will pay for the cab service, picking up the tab at the end of each month, she said.

Caplin said UISG will be investing a lot of its $114,700 budget into the cab service because officials want the service to be around for at least a few years.

"We're extremely committed to this for a long time period," Caplin said. "We don't want this to be something that was put forward with this administration, then stop when the new government steps forward."

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