If you’ve ever called Safe Ride on a wild night out and were unable to clearly see or identify your ride (for some reason or another), there may soon be an answer.
Safe Rides, the department managing Safe Ride and the Designated Driver Shuttle, requested $13,400 from the ASUO Student Senate for vehicle wraps to give Safe Rides’ vehicles an easily identifiable look.
The request was made on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at the ASUO Student Senate meeting. The money would be allocated to wrap the 11 existing vehicles within Safe Ride and the Designated Driver Shuttle with 35” by 10” decals. These vehicles consist of one Ford Transit, four Ford E-350 van/ minibusses and six Dodge Caravans.
Qualifying organizations can request additional funds beyond what they are allocated during the annual ASUO Budget Process, according to the ASUO website.
Ashley McCrea, the Safe Rides program manager at the UO Police Department, said at the ASUO meeting that the request was made because people often question if a vehicle is really a Safe Ride or DDS vehicle.
She also said that part of the desire for vehicle wraps comes from wanting the Safe Rides programs to have an easily identifiable look, as the look of current Safe Ride and DDS vehicles is “not very clearly University of Oregon.”
“It’s identifying something that is safe, professional and identifiable to the University, because currently that is not represented in our program vehicles,” McCrea said.
ASUO Senator Alex Pear, of Senate Seat 4, supported the request.
“I think it is a reasonable request,” Pear said. “Student safety is something we strive for.”
Mariah Victor is one of the co-directors of the DDS program, and as a user of the service herself, she said that a vehicle wrap would make it a lot easier for riders that have only used Safe Ride or DDS a few times.
During the Senate meeting, senators expressed that they wanted to look into options other than the expensive vehicle decals before making a definitive decision, such as taxi-toppers, LED strips or personnel uniforms for Safe Ride and DDS employees.
ASUO Senator Arian Mobasser, of Senate Seat 23 and the sciences and law representative for graduate students, said that ASUO may be “throwing money at something that wouldn’t resolve the issue.”
McCrea later researched the option of taxi toppers for Safe Ride and DDS vehicles, and she said that it may not be a viable option due to a lack of visibility on larger vehicles and the possibility of Safe Ride and DDS patrons confusing Safe Ride and DDS vehicles with taxis or delivery drivers. She later added that she would advocate for taxi toppers as a “secondary marketing strategy.”
The ASUO’s initial vote to approve or deny the request tied with 10 senators on each side. ASUO Internal Vice President, Tess Mor, broke the tie with a “no” vote, tabling the request and saying that Safe Ride should return to another Senate meeting with a new proposal after further research. By tabling the request, ASUO officially postponed a vote on Safe Rides’ proposal.
Safe Ride and DDS provide rides for active students, faculty and staff of the University within an approximate area of four miles. The north boundary is Randy Pape Beltline, the east is Pioneer Parkway, the south is 46th Avenue and the west is City View Street.
Safe Ride takes students in groups of three or less, and it begins shuttling students in the evening through reservation only. Operating times vary by term and are listed on Safe Ride’s website.
The DDS is another free, first come, first serve UO shuttle service, but it operates only from 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. every night and will shuttle up to 10 UO students home and not to any other locations, according to the UO website, and it does not allow scheduled rides.
“There are many programs at the University that aim to prevent such behavior, but DDS is a program that provides solutions when they occur: namely, providing designated rides for intoxicated students,” DDS states on its website.
“We are a ‘no-questions-asked’ program. We will not ask you how old you are, nor do we presume guilt on all passengers. As a rider, you are not obligated to tell anything about where you have been that night, who you were with, or what you have done,” also according to its website.
Both Safe Ride and DDS are student-run programs that operate out of the EMU, and both programs employ UO students to keep them running.
Students can call Safe Ride and DDS at (541) 346-RIDE (7433).