This is something I've been wanting to talk about for a while but the other night sealed the deal. So for those of you who don't know, SafeRide is a transportation system that transports students in the ECU and Greenville area. As someone who has gone most of her life without a vehicle, when I discovered SafeRide I was happy that I would finally have an easier way to get around campus, especially when many of my clubs have me out late at night. However, despite its claims, it has some serious flaws that need to be worked out if they truly want to provide safe transportation for its students.
SafeRide's mission statement reads as follows:
"SafeRide serves to facilitate a safe and reliable evening commuting environment in the ECU/Greenville area by providing students, staff, faculty and visitors with a fare-free method of transportation to their homes/residences or vehicles. It also serves to facilitate safe and reliable evening movement around the ECU campus."
The part about the fare-free method and safe transportation once you are in the vehicle are true. But once you look at the reliable part of their statement it doesn't quite check out. Now I understand that they aren't meant to be a personal Uber, but if they want to be as reliable as they say then there need to be some tweaks.
SafeRide can only give you an estimate of when they can pick you up and this time frame can range from 5 minutes to almost an hour later even when using the ASAP option. I understand that ECU is a big community and there's only so many vans, but if you are going to have an ASAP option try and have it so the pick-up time is around that timeframe, not a half-hour later. It seems like lately the few times I've tried to use SafeRide I end up canceling it because it would end up being faster if I just walked back across campus. This issue has left me with no other choice but to suck it up and walk back on the side of the road in the dark. Especially when the weather is less than favorable having a reliable means of getting safely back to my apartment would be nice. It would be one thing if the issue was they had a lot of customers/other riders when I get picked up, but the majority of the time it is just me who's riding. It's a van big enough to hold at least 3 riders, so if it's not that you're swamped with customers then why is it taking so long to get to someone. Now maybe they were dropping off a bunch of people beforehand, but it seems to me it would be simpler and faster to pick up several people then drop them off at their designated places than do it one at a time. If the policy is there's a limit to how many riders, then why are the vans designed with multiple passengers in mind. Something just doesn't add up to me.
There was a time when I had just got back from a football game and it was dark and cold and I hoped I could use SafeRide, but they, unfortunately, let me down. The busses weren't running as normal due to the game, so my only option was SafeRide or walking back. It makes sense that I chose SafeRide, right? Well, that's what I thought, but sadly I was wrong. They denied my request stating that they were not able to complete my request because I was too close to the blocked off area of the stadium. I found that odd since I was requesting to be picked up from Brewster and my drop off was a straight shot down 10th street. I wasn't sure how much further I could get from the stadium unless I walked in the complete opposite direction. Resigning myself to walking, I called my mom so I had someone to talk to as I walked back to my apartment in the freezing cold and the dark. A trick I learned to use for when the pick-up time is too long is to ride 301 to the bottom of the hill and then get off and walk the rest of the way to my apartment. Unfortunately, Greenville construction has made this impossible. Therefore, pretty much the entire right side of the hill is sectioned off so the bus has no choice but to stop at the bus stop more than halfway up the hill. So I would have to not only walk all the way back down from the hill but then continue my walk back to my apartment.
Another common reasoning they have given for not picking me up is that I should just use my bus route. Part of this I understand because as I stated, I get that they aren't meant as a personal Uber service to pick you up. The thing I do find troubling is that for using the bus system as their reasoning, you would think they would have knowledge of the actual bus schedule. Yes, I can ride my bus route back but to do that I would have to walk all the way from the student center where I'm asking to be picked up, to Christenbury and then wait another 20 minutes in the cold for the bus to come because it runs on a 30-minute schedule and it just hit 8 o'clock. Or once again, I could just suck it up and walk all the way back to my apartment, which I ended up doing. Also, as I was walking back, I could see the bus passing me in the other direction. Why can't you work with the bus route and say you know the bus just left and it will be another half hour if the person decides to wait on the bus. So, why not just pick them up and drop them off - it's only a couple of minutes drive to where they want to be dropped off.
As of right now, I have had successful rides with them but those successful rides are equal to the rides I've canceled because the wait is too long, or they've denied me because of a reason they gave that doesn't make much sense. I guess one of the few good things I've gotten out of SafeRide is plenty of excercise walking back home.