Nite Ride increases availability


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Women at the University of Iowa can now take advantage of enhanced safety measures both on campus and off.

Nite Ride, the university’s bus system to provide safe rides to women, extended its hours beginning Monday. Previously running from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., the bus, which is operated by full-time UI security officers, will now continue to run until 6 a.m.

Bill Searls, associate director of UI Public Safety, said the change came following the UI’s Six Point Plan, along with the addition of another bus last spring.

“When we added the additional bus, we added additional staffing, and our staff is on 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., so we have the ability to cover those hours,” he said. “We did it through finals week, so we thought, ‘Why not do the rest of the year?’”

Following a string of sexual-assault-related Hawk Alerts last spring, the Six Point Plan was introduced to help keep students safer.

“With a portion of the Six Point Plan, President [Sally] Mason asked to increase Nite Ride services, and that’s what we’re doing,” Searls said. “It states in there that she wants to increase safety on campus, and part of that is increasing Nite Ride.”

While the idea to add hours was formed last year, Searls said the department decided to wait until the first day of classes, because ridership is always down in the summer.

This year, however, Nite Ride has already seen an increase in the number of women using the service.

During the Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights before the first day of school, ridership increased every day compared with last year. Saturday showed the most difference, with 88 more riders this year than in the past.

Searls said he anticipates this trend continuing.

“I think they’re already recognizing Nite Ride is out there, so I hope we see increased ridership,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s a positive reaction, and they utilize the service.”

UI senior Leslie Wille has used the service in the past and said she is supportive of the change, especially in light of the many Hawk Alerts that have occurred in the past.

“I think it will give students who want to stay on campus more opportunity instead of feeling pressure to rush home sooner,” she said.

Jen Carlson, the executive director of the Rape Victim Advocacy Program at the UI, said she appreciates the UI’s dedication to making students feel more safe and secure.

“I think that it is a good tangible example of their continued dedication of that Six Point Plan by offering more resources for students … and to utilize the Nite Ride opportunity to make sure their classmates get home safely,” she said.

Despite being pleased with the increase in hours, Carlson said there is still much more to be done.

“There are a lot of really interesting programs that are in development through the university with a large focus on bystander intervention, so I would love to see those programs implemented and student leaders on campus to continue to step up and raise the bar,” she said. “There are many, many students that are already doing that so we just want to continue to see that participation.”

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