New Safe Ride app drives students to frustration


Daily file photo by Sherry Li

Two Safe Ride cars are parked outside the service’s office. Some Northwestern students have experienced difficulties with TransLoc Rider, Safe Ride’s new mobile dispatch application.

Catherine Kim, Reporter

Northwestern students have been experiencing difficulties with Safe Ride’s new mobile dispatch application, which replaced TapRide this academic year.

TransLoc Rider is a mobile app that gives students on-demand access to free rides on campus from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Some students said they have experienced issues receiving notifications and GPS tracking with the new app. Weinberg freshman Serena Salgado was one of many students who could not tell whether or not her car was on its way using TransLoc Rider.

“At one point, it didn’t show me the status that I had even ordered a car, so it kind of freaked me out,” Salgado said. “I eventually figured it out, but it took a little bit of navigating the app to keep track of when my car was coming.”

Safe Ride coordinator Bernard Foster declined to comment on changes to the service.

Another concern among students is that the app does not include an estimated time of when a ride is next available — a feature that was previously available in Tapride, said Allan Heo, Bienen and SESP senior.

“It just says, ‘We’ll send you a text when you’re the next ride,’ which from experience I know it could be five minutes to an hour, so that’s very inconvenient for the users,” Heo said.

Medill freshman Kira Fahmy also said she experienced errors with the location detector. When she requested a ride from Elder Hall, the automatic location detector provided the wrong address.

Weinberg junior Jayleen James said the app’s failure to inform students of canceled rides was also an issue.

“It doesn’t tell you when (a driver) cancels on you,” James said. “One time I requested it at 2:40 a.m., and it said that (a driver) was on the way, but it never actually came, so we just ended up walking.”

Another problem occurs when requesting a car through the app because unlike TapRide, TransLoc Rider takes users to an external website to book a car, James said. This change adds confusion to the process because the web page is difficult to navigate, they said.

Despite several problems with the app, James said they value the app’s ability for drivers to directly contact students.

“On TapRide, it was weird because you would know about the person coming or arriving, but they couldn’t actually contact you,” James said. “So if they were outside waiting, they couldn’t tell you that, and you didn’t know who your driver was or anything.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @ck_525