SafeRide stakes: Expanding program is a worthwhile endeavor

You’re exhausted after a long day of work and face a long walk home in the dark.

You drove to your friend’s house and weren’t expecting to drink, but you did, and don’t feel like it would be safe to drive yourself home.

You stayed late on campus and the darkness of the night snuck up on you.

Whatever the case, there’s probably been a time that you wished you could have a free ride home from a trustworthy organization. That’s where the Associated Students of Oregon State University’s SafeRide program comes in. The organization is run by students for students, “dedicated to providing an alternative safe ride home or to campus for Oregon State University students free from judgement,” according to the ASOSU website.

Rides can be ordered via phone call or a convenient app which can be found by searching for “SafeRide OSU” at the app store, and the drivers will drive you to any Corvallis residence and even to Philomath.

Last year I worked late every night, and on days I wasn’t able to drive to campus I was able to order a free ride that would pick me up from the door of my workplace and drop me off at the door of my apartment a mile and a half away. It was an easy, free and accessible way to go home, and I never felt unsafe.

Although I don’t work nights anymore, I still use the service occasionally, and I still recommend it to everyone I can. The student drivers are friendly and helpful.

On the SafeRide Facebook page, you can learn about the drivers as drivers are featured with short biographies followed by the hashtag #KnowYourSafeDriver. The vans are spacious and comfortable.

However, the service isn’t perfect; wait times for the vans can be long, and then there is extra time to be factored in as there are usually people in the vans who will be dropped off before you. This is a minor problem that could be solved, though, if ASOSU were given a bit more funding to improve the service.

Since its conception, SafeRide has grown to accommodate a large number of students with very little advertising on ASOSU’s part, according to SafeRide Program Manager MacKenzie Zathan. “Students utilize it a lot more,” Zathan said at a budget meeting Saturday Feb. 6. “I think that’s why we’ve seen the increases we’ve seen.”

Zathan also claimed that since fall term 2014, only 50 percent of students who request rides end up actually taking them, most likely because of long wait times. ASOSU proposed at the budget meeting to have a total of eight vans, a new managing position, and a few new iPads, which the SafeRide navigators use to keep track of rides and requests. These new additions would cost a total of $243,570.00, which would be divided among the student body.

Therefore, these proposals would cost $10.02 per student per term. This is an entirely reasonable figure for a service that could be used an unlimited number of times by anyone who has a valid ONID account. $10.02 is about what a single cab ride home from a bar or work or a friend’s party would cost.

Oregon State students are very lucky to have a service like SafeRide, and I fully support the both the growth of the number of students using the service, as well as paying a little extra cash in order to decrease wait times and ensure that the organization continues to run smoothly. As Zathan noted, “We’re just trying to catch up with the need we’ve been experiencing the past year and a half.”

The opinions expressed in Keating’s column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Barometer Staff.

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