Nite Ride to add a bus


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University of Iowa students will soon see more than one Nite Ride bus out around campus each night.

UI President Sally Mason proposed a six-point plan to the state Board of Regents last week that included the authorized funding to expand Nite Ride, and officials say plans are in the works.

The plan is in response to the number of reported sexual assaults this academic year, as well a number of protests following comments Mason made to The Daily Iowan. There have been eight reported sexual assaults and one reported attempted sexual assault to university officials during the academic year.

Ken Friedhoff, the coordinator of the Security Division of Public Safety, said officials are hoping to purchase an additional vehicle soon, and they plan to have it on the road before the end of the semester.

“Adding another vehicle allows us to transport more passengers in a more timely and efficient manner,” he wrote in an email, noting that the money would come from Nite Ride’s budget.

Full-time security officers operate the 15-person bus seven days a week from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. on an on-call basis.

Once a vehicle is chosen, officials must inspect and test it for road worthiness, as well as adding additional equipment needs for the inside of the vehicle, Friedhoff said.

In February, 1,727 students used Nite Ride, an increase of more than 100 compared with February 2013. During the entire year of 2013, 13,395 passengers used Nite Ride, the most since 2009.

Friedhoff said that Nite Ride has evolved since it was launched in 2007.

“Progressively, the route has expanded to cover more miles, and it continues to cover more miles,” he said. “And it continues to be a very popular service.”

In March 2013, the UI Department of Public Safety expanded the routes to include West Benton Street and Riverside Drive to Benton and Sunset Street. 

Frequent Nite Ride user UI junior Lauren Lyons said something needs to be done cope with the increased number of users.

“I think that would be really awesome to allow more areas of Iowa City to be served,” she said. “In order to do this, though, I think that they would have to add another bus just so that girls wouldn’t walk home because Nite Ride took too long.”

Mason also outlined the implementation of regular walks on campus to improve lighting and other conditions in her six-point plan, something one regent institution has in place.

Thomas Madsen, the University of Northern Iowa Student Government president, said the university currently has a SafeRide program, an escort service, and twice a year student government officials, members of the administration, and staff go on a safe walk to inspect the campus.

“We kind of point out things we can get improved,” he said.

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