SafeRide a viable option for students


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Students at the University of Iowa are now allowed one free ride home per semester, and the UIowa Student Government is willing to pick up the tab for the taxi fare — but some restrictions apply.

The UISG has taken providing a free service to students upon itself, and it has managed to do it in a reasonable, and more importantly, responsible, budget.

SafeRide, an initiative started by the student government to provide a safe ride home for both male and female students this semester, and it is certainly a vast improvement in service from the late night Cambus route or Night Ride.

SafeRide is a program produced through the joint effort of UISG and Yellow Cab; it will pick up students who find themselves in an emergency or unexpected situation from any address in Iowa City or Coralville any day of the week between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. with no charge to the student.

However, the members and administrators of UISG recognized the importance of ensuring that a free service such as this would not bankrupt the budget.

“We have a cap — we cannot spend over $40,000 in a year,” said UISG Vice President Jessie Tobin.
She also said it is important to have different checks to make sure the service isn’t being misused and is only being used by UI students to ensure that the program stays within its budget.

To ensure economic feasibility, students must go through identity verification.  First, students in emergency or unexpected situations must call the hotline and explain their situation and why it is an emergency. When the cab arrives, students must have their photo IDs, which will be scanned to ensure that the students have not already used their one free ride. Then, the cab service will only take students to their address, which must be registered in the UI phone book, or the cab could take them to the hospital if need be.  

UISG also showed its dedication to fiscal responsibility through a selective process in which different cab companies in the area bargained for the partnership. Ultimately, the student government chose to partner with Yellow Cab because the taxi service is the largest in Iowa City and had the best rates for the bid.

“Yellow Cab is most popular, and we have good relationship with hospitals, and this would just be one more account to keep drivers busy,” said Ernie Story, a dispatcher and driver for Yellow Cab.

He said that on nights of the weekend, Yellow Cab is likely to have as many as 20 cabs in or near downtown, and it will be able to respond to calls in just a matter of minutes, should a situation arise.

Since the program launched early this month, eight students have used the service, but their identities are kept confidential. If those students find themselves in any additional emergency or unexpected situations for the rest of the semester, they’ll have to simply pay the cab fare themselves.  

SafeRide is an important addition to services provided to UI students, but it is not perfect. Still, UISG showed its dedication to staying true to its budget, which is more than can be said about many other governing bodies, and student have a backup plan, just in case.

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