UI expands Nite Ride

BY DANIEL SEIDL | MARCH 24, 2014 5:00 AM

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University of Iowa students will now see a second Nite Ride bus around campus.

The roughly $55,000 vehicle is part of UI President Sally Mason’s six-point plan that she proposed earlier this month. The plan included authorized funding to expand Nite Ride.

The new bus’ service started March 21 and covers the same hours and route as the original bus. A central dispatcher will be used to communicate with both vehicles.

“We want to get a couple of nights under our belt, because we have a new system of dispatching,” said William Searls, associate director of the UI police. “We want to get the buses out, and we want to get things going and want to get our people staffed, and then when the students get back, we’re ready to go.”

After the university received backlash from students on the increased number of sexual assaults reported to UI officials, as well as statements Mason made to The Daily Iowan, Mason introduced the plan to help address their concerns.

With the addition 15-passenger vehicle, which includes the driver and the front-seat passenger, officials will seek to increase service hours.

Searls said the route will also be looked at to see if it needs to be extended to other areas.

There are two drivers who rotate the position every six months, but with the new vehicle, Ken Friedhoff, the coordinator of the Security Division of Public Safety, said the positions might become permanent.

“The big thing I heard from the drivers are you know the people that are taking part of the program they appreciate seeing the same face every night,” Friedhoff said. “They get to know people, there’s conversation, there’s dialogue, and so it’s a better experience.”

With the second vehicle, Freidhoff said he would also like to employ more students to help out drivers.

“The central dispatcher is great and is going to send the information to the drivers and all that, but that person that’s sitting in there is going to help keep track of the number of people getting on the bus, will still kind of line up the destinations where they’re going so we can get things routed out better instead of the driver still having to do all that,” Friedhoff said.

Georgina Dodge, the UI chief diversity officer and associate vice president, said the increased number of reports of sexual assault to the university were alarming, but the community has to be informed.

In addition, Dodge said more dialogue is trying to be exchanged between students and UI officials.

“The increase of sexual assault reporting is intended to increase safety, and that’s the same purpose of doubling the capacity for Nite Ride, so I think that students will react very favorably,” Dodge said. “Everyone has wanted more communication and more transparency, and we’re trying to meet that need.”

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