Safe Ride sees fewer ride requests but lower wait times


Colin Boyle/The Daily Northwestern

Students and administrators gather at the Campus Safety and Crime Prevention Meeting on Monday. During the meeting, Safe Ride coordinator Bernie Foster shared statistics about TransLoc Rider, Safe Ride’s new app.

Jonah Dylan, Reporter

In the first 53 days of the quarter, Safe Ride but only received around a third of requests compared to Fall Quarter last year.

Safe Ride also completed a larger proportion of requested rides this past quarter. Since September, Safe Ride has completed about 72 percent of requested rides — higher than the roughly 41 percent of rides completed during Fall Quarter in 2015.

Weinberg junior Jayleen James said they are still experiencing issues with the app. Safe Ride recently transitioned to using a new app, TransLoc Rider, at the beginning of the academic year.

“I feel like I’ve been a lot more frustrated with the app recently than I was with (TapRide),” James said. “I’ve had a lot of cancelled trips lately, where I confirm a trip and it never comes, and I’m waiting for a very long time.”

James said using the new app is a complicated process and is not any better than TapRide, an app students previously used to request rides.

“I feel like they’re trying to make it more efficient, but it’s a lot more complicated, and it makes things even longer,” James said. “TapRide was way easier to use.”

At a Campus Safety and Crime Prevention meeting Monday, Safe Ride coordinator Bernie Foster said it takes about 10 steps to call a Safe Ride, which can be difficult for students, especially before they’ve signed up and created an account through the app.

Although some students previously said using the app for the first time is a complicated process, Weinberg freshman Serena Salgado said she has started to figure it out.

“Before, sometimes it would say there were no rides available, but it doesn’t do that anymore,” Salgado said.

Despite fewer requests for rides, Safe Ride has improved its average wait times, from 39 minutes last year to 10 minutes this quarter, according to statistics gathered by the ride service.

Foster said he’s pleased with the improvements under TransLoc Rider.

“The app is living up to what it was promised to do, which was lower our wait time and give us a higher capacity to accept rides and complete rides,” Foster said.

But some students say the wait time has not decreased.

James estimated that the average wait time this year is about 40 minutes. Safe Ride statistics, however, say the maximum wait time this year is 18 minutes.

At Monday’s meeting, Foster also said the new app lets student drivers transport multiple passengers at the same time and decreases their stress.

“(They) actually think they’re less busy,” Foster said.

Despite the consolidation of rides, Foster said the number of rides has gone up. On Oct. 28, Safe Ride completed 244 rides with just five drivers, he said.

Foster said he hopes to hit 300 rides a night but only has 22 drivers right now. Although he would like to have about 40 drivers total, he said he’s very happy with the progress this year.

“We’re getting back to where we should be, and that’s what I’m happy about,” he said.

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