SafeRide to move to new office to match expanding services

Lark Turner

SafeRide is moving to a new location this quarter to expand its services.

Moving to the University Career Services building at 620 Lincoln St. will allow SafeRide to expand the number of cars, drivers and dispatchers it operates, said Paul David Shrader, SafeRide’s coordinator.

The organization’s budget was increased in the fall in response to elevated crime in Evanston, The Daily reported in November.

“Currently we’re in this little oversized closet in Elder,” Shrader said. “We can barely fit two computers with two dispatchers.”

Each dispatcher can handle about four cars at any given time, Shrader said. With the increase in funding, SafeRide is trying to increase cars from six to eight on weeknights and eight to 10 on weekends. The service has already expanded to eight cars each night, he said.

The numbers mean SafeRide has to expand to accommodate its new goals. Up to three dispatchers can work at once in the new office, Shrader said.

Lucas Artaiz, a SafeRide dispatcher and driver, said there are other perks to the new office.

“It will certainly be more comfortable,” the SESP senior said. “It will give us the flexibility to add more drivers, which will cut wait time.”

SafeRide driver Brendan Flannery, a Communication senior, said the changes would improve student safety.

Shrader said he is also using the expansion as an opportunity to improve the organization’s reputation.

Shrader also said he wants dispatchers to give callers shuttle times if, for example, rides are booked or the wait is too long.

He is also making staffing changes.

“I’m not keeping around drivers who either aren’t fulfilling their job responsibilities or who aren’t looking out for the safety of Northwestern students,” Shrader said. “If they’re going up and picking up all their friends and going to McDonald’s or something, that’s not looking out for student safety.”

Shrader hired nine new drivers last week due to both expansion and turnover, he said.Despite the changes, he said the organization will never be able to eliminate wait times.

“(Former Dean of Students) Mary Desler used to say that no matter how many cars we add to SafeRide, Northwestern students will meet the supply,” he said. “It’s not going to be a five-minute wait for SafeRide all the time, but we plan on giving more people rides.”[email protected]