“Safe Ride” gets students home

Ziek Sanchez

The University Police Department is planning to launch a free and quick latenight transportation service fall 2019 for Texas State staff, faculty and students.

The new UPD “Safe Ride” service will be available from 10:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. seven days a week, with vans driven by trained UPD public service officers. The service is paired with the “TapRide” app, allowing riders to track their ride to get an estimated wait time.

“Safe Ride” will be similar to the preexisting golf cart transportation “Bobcat Bobbies.” However, the new system is set to fix current issues of the golf cart service, including long wait times and confusion regarding driver location.

Sergeant Paul Aleman, Bobcat Bobbies supervisor, said even with six to seven golf carts on campus, Sundays through Thursdays are extremely busy days for the service.

“The campus grows every year and the university gets more dorms, so it’s hard to get everywhere at once and try our best but with these vans, it’ll help relieve the workload,” Aleman said. “These vans are being put in place to prioritize safety. Hopefully that’s what students use it for.”

With a “Safe Ride” van, getting from one point to the other should be more efficient in saving time than already established transportation services. Using a van should increase capacity size for riders, resulting in transporting higher quantities of people to where they need to be.

Captain Patrick Cochran, UPD officer, said the “Safe Ride” program will provide a better experience for riders. The vans will act as an Uber without any money transactions involved.

“‘Safe Ride’ should eliminate the wait times you get with Bobcat Bobbies,” Cochran said. “It should prevent riders from having an over 30-minute wait and not knowing where (the Bobbies) are.”

When the service is launched, users will be able to access the “TapRide” app to request a ride. The app will then notify a “Safe Ride” driver and Bobcat Bobbies carts. UPD expects the service to aid students in need of a ride after Bobcat Bobbies and the buses stop for the night.

According to UPD, the app should be similar to the shuttle system’sDoubleMap” app.

Even though “Safe Ride” vans will not be able to drive through campus due to lack of roads, there will still be a variety of locations available. Notable destinations include the Texas State Stadium lots, the Recreation Center, Speck Street and Garage, Sewell Park, Aquarena Springs Meadow Center, Bobcat Village and the boundary around campus.

After the program has begun, UPD plans to add a second van and refine its routes and stops to better adjust to user’s needs. The second vehicle is expected to be available sometime during February 2020.

Dominic Castaneda, geography freshman, said he is often at the Recreation Center late and hates the dark walk back to Butler Hall.

“I’ll probably end up using ‘Safe Ride’ a lot,” Castaneda said. “Having used the Bobcat Bobbies before, it still does take a noticeable chunk of time for them to arrive. A van is a good idea to cut down on the amount of time students spend alone.”

UPD is training “Safe Ride” drivers and testing the equipment; everything is working properly so far. If all goes accordingly, the service should be available by Oct. 6, 2019.

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