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Nite Ride sees little increase in riders after expanding routes in Iowa City

BY ABIGAIL MEIER | OCTOBER 24, 2013 5:00 AM

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The free shuttle offered to UI women — Nite Ride — has not seen a rise in riders despite widening boundary lines throughout Iowa City.

The UI Department of Public Safety widened routes to the free shuttle service to include West Benton Street and expanded Riverside Drive to end at Sunset Street in early March 2013.

Since then, UI police Officer Ken Friedhoff said the number of riders has not increased, but he has seen more women using its services during the weekdays.

“This year, the academic part of Nite Ride is getting utilized quite a bit,” Friedhoff said. “More students are using it when they are out late studying into the early morning hours.”

Friedhoff said most pickups seem to be during the week, because many UI buildings such as the IMU and the UI main library are changing to a full 24 hours service.

Full-time UI security officers operate the free shuttle, a 15-person bus which allows women a safe trip home seven days a week from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. on an on-call basis.

“I mean speaking as a freshman, it’s pretty intimidating walking home alone after a late night studying or night with friends,” said UI freshmen Kelsey Schonoff.

Schonoff said she has used Nite Ride on numerous occasions as a safe alternative to walking back to her dorm on the west side of campus.

UI Student Government President Katherine Valde said she has seen more off campus students using expanded routes for a safe way home instead of strictly on campus purposes.

“If we are able to serve more students because they live right off campus, then I think it’s important to serve that large number of people at the university,” she said. “Every year, they seem to improve, and serve more and more students and I am very thankful we have that service offered.”

However, one student feels Nite Ride’s arrivals could be improved, and she also wishes their pick-ups could be located off-campus as well. Currently, the Nite Ride shuttle only picks up passengers on the UI campus.

“It’s definitely a safer option and convenient for many women on campus,” said UI junior Lauren Crowe. “But a dangerous situation could happen to you if you are on your way to the library or back.”

Crowe said many times she would have to wait at a pickup location on campus for as long as a half hour before the van arrived.

Friedhoff said he has received positive feedback from riders in the past and continues to make improvements to the safety needs of students on campus.

“The main thing we need to focus on is the means of safe transportation,” said Friedhoff. “With the expansion of Benton Street we are able to cover more area, and get more students back safe.”


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