Escort Service expands service to meet higher demand

Elizabeth Campbell

Escort Service has enacted a pilot program for Spring Quarter to provide more people with rides and decrease wait times, said Escort Service coordinator Ben Brenner.

Two minivans from the Northwestern University motor pool, along with a second dispatcher and a second phone line, will be added as part of the program to improve Escort Service, Brenner said. The minivans will run Thursdays through Mondays, the busiest nights for Escort Service.

The program is a response to an increase in student demand, Brenner said. The additions will be re-evaluated at the end of Spring Quarter to determine if the changes will become permanent.

More than 19,000 people used the service Winter Quarter with an average of about 260 passengers a day, Brenner said.

The large increase in the number of riders and the recommendation of this year’s Undergraduate Budget Priorities Committee contributed to the additions, Brenner said.

More vehicles and funding for Escort Service topped the UBPC’s list of recommendations to administrators.

Escort Service was the top priority because students expressed “continual frustration” about waiting for rides, said Jonathan Marino, UBPC committee chairman and a SESP senior.

This service directly affects students, Marino said.

“It gets people off sidewalks at 2 a.m.,” he said. “It’s a little thing that will make the daily lives of students better.”

The university responded to student requests, said Dean of Students Mary Desler.

Desler said she hopes student response will be positive.

“Our goal is to reduce wait times and to continue to provide outstanding service,” she said. “Safety’s what it’s all about.”

Rick Lichtas is one of about 40 drivers working for Escort Service. The McCormick sophomore said the program has been running more smoothly than in past years and that the improvements will make the system even more efficient.

“It’s a good idea to add a couple more vehicles to the fleet,” Lichtas said.

The second dispatcher will allow calls to be answered more quickly, Lichtas said.

Escort Service runs on extended hours from 8 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. when daylight-saving time is not in effect, Brenner said. When daylight-saving time begins April 2, the Escort Service will run from 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. However, on April 1, Escort Service will run until 3:30 a.m. to adjust for the time change.

Students can call 847-491-7000 to receive more information or request a ride.

Reach Elizabeth Campbell at

[email protected]