DDS adds new van and develops mobile app to further prevent drunk driving
When Krissy Craig became co-director of Designated Driver Shuttle, she and co-director Taran Hughes took over a student-run service with a $123,226 budget and a bad spending history.
DDS is an ASUO-funded service that provides rides to University of Oregon students seven days a week. DDS is a “first come, first serve” and “no-questions-asked” carpool service to prevent drunk driving.
With four vans running from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends, DDS provides a safe way to get home for more than 100 students per night, Craig said. But the program has been a standstill since last year.
ASUO Finance Director Shawn Stevenson said the program, despite operating for a good cause, is not in the best shape.
“[DDS members] have inherited a mess in all honesty,” Stevenson said. “The past director of DDS did not run it very efficiently. They let people slack off and didn’t really live up to their responsibility.”
Craig is striving to change that. DDS asked the ASUO Program Finance Committee for a 40 percent budget increase for next year on Jan. 10. The plan for the increase is to operate an extra van, hire more staff and improve DDS’s marketing plan.
“We want to expand the services and its efficiency for students on campus,” Craig said. “I think we are a very important service for the university.”
Safe Ride, a similar carpool service that focus on preventing sexual assault, is more widely known on campus, Craig said. There is often some confusion between the two services.
Last year, DDS board members created a new position, communication outreach coordinator, to reach out to the community and present DDS on social media. As of now, DDS has more than 600 likes on its Facebook page and prepares to roll out a new mobile application.
Craig said the app, which will be compatible with iOS and Android, will increase accessibility for students. By allowing students to book a ride without calling, service efficiency is expected to increase.
DDS anticipates launching its mobile booking service by the end of this school year.
DDS will also expand service by adding a fifth van on weekends to accommodate high demand by the end of January.
Last year, Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee cut the after-midnight bus service run to apartment complexes near Autzen Stadium due to budget shortage. DDS and Safe Ride have become crucial to students who live there, Duck’s Village resident and UO student Jasmine Chen said.
“Sometimes my work would last over midnight, so it’s a task for me to get home without a car or bus,” Chen said. “DDS is quite reliable, but the wait time is very long sometimes.”
PFC approved a 10 percent increase, or $12,000, for DDS’ budget next year. Craig said DDS is looking into fundraising and launching volunteer programs to continue growing the services.
Stevenson said he has high hopes for the direction DDS is taking, but he doesn’t completely agree with PFC’s decision.
Stevenson said that the increase is a little unfair to other groups who have to face decreased or frozen budgets while having a similar spending history.
Do you appreciate independent student journalism? Emerald Media Group is a non-profit organization. Please consider a donation to support our mission.