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Nite Ride sees spike in ridership

BY LILY ABROMEIT | JANUARY 27, 2014 5:00 AM

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Officials with the University of Iowa Nite Ride shuttle service said they have noticed an increase in the number of women taking up the blue leather seats every night.

But the Public Safety Department wants to see more riders using the service.

“I’d like to see a lot more riders, more people using it,” said Ken Friedhoff, coordinator of the Security Division of Public Safety. “It’s a service provided to the university community, and I’d like to see people take advantage of the service provided for them.”

In 2009, the service provided 14,472 rides. In 2010, the numbers dropped to 12,794, then continued to steadily grow. During 2013, officials said 13,395 women took advantage of the bus service.

Josh Klaaren, a Public Safety security officer and Nite Ride driver, said he attributes the uptick to the spreading of information about the program through word of mouth and social media.

Additionally, Klaaren said, the updated Library Commons, open 24 hours, has also created more of a demand.

“There was a mad rush for everybody to get on [and there wasn’t always enough room,]” he said. “But with the library not closing, that spreads it out and relieves that mad rush.”

UI junior Siwen Weng, who has ridden Nite Ride since her sophomore year, said she is grateful for the service.

“Sometimes, we come back late, and we don’t have a car, so we use Nite Ride,” she said. “[It] provides a ride and safety for us.”

Weng said getting a ride from the library late at night is often a problem she solves with the program.

“A lot of people study [late] at the library,” she said. “If you have a ride instead of walking alone, it’s safer.”

Klaaren said he notices more riders on after a Hawk Alert is sent to students, warning against sexual assault.

“Even when a few roll out, either before or during the Night Ride time, I’ve … had people say the reason they call is because of the Hawk Alert,” he said.

Friedhoff said the Public Safety hopes to continue to increase ridership by boosting its social-media impact as well as striving to raise awareness of the opportunity available.

“I’d like to push the Twitter, Uiowa_NiteRide,” he said. “It’s a pretty sweet deal if people sign up [because] they can get photos of what [a] new bus looks like, so they’re not getting into a strange bus that may be parked at our stop.”

Despite Nite Ride’s recent uptrend, Klaaren said he would still like to see more people utilizing the service especially because he often sees women walking alone at night when they could get a ride.

“Even with the high numbers we’ve had, there is a little bit of down time,” he said. “Every now and then, it sits there and that could be a time someone could be using it.”


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