ASMSU to offer pilot program for free cab rides

Saving a buck here or there is something ASMSU, MSU’s undergraduate student government, is trying to help students accomplish by planning to implement a Safe Ride Program. The program will serve as a free trip home to any ASMSU tax-paying student on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.

ASMSU members hope the program will reduce drunken driving and assaults. Each student will be allotted one ride per night.

“The history of the program is to sort of establish a fleet of cars that will basically be available to any student that calls up at night that needs a ride home somewhere, whether it be on-campus to off or off-campus to on,” ASMSU President Evan Martinak said.

The student organization passed a bill at last week’s general assembly to increase the current student tax of $18 to $18.50 per student per semester. Undergraduate students will have the final say by voting on the student tax increase in April during ASMSU’s election week. If passed, the bill will raise around $40,000 for the program to be implemented in the upcoming fall 2013 semester.

Representatives said the funding raised by the student tax increase will cover the expenses of the program such as renting three cars from MSU, gas, maintenance and driver and dispatcher wages.

The program is modeled after similar services at Western Michigan University and Texas A&M University, Vice President of Finance and Operations Kyle Clifton said. ASMSU will be working out the kinks and specific costs of the program this April and plan to run a pilot program during all four of the weekends of the month.

“We want to launch it that first weekend of April,” Clifton said of the pilot program. “ASMSU is totally ready to go with that and it is all kind of on the university. If the university approves it, then it’s launching the first weekend of April.”

The idea of saving a few bucks on a weekend evening is something that excites history freshman Harry Smith and his friends. He said he most likely would use the program if it is approved.

“Often times you find yourself out without cash on you, so otherwise you would be stranded,” Smith said.

While Smith and his friends believe the four-letter word “free” will intrigue many students, owner of Get In Lucky Rides Richard Trotman is skeptical of students abusing the program.

Trotman believes the program will be used by many, but is worried about how the student government will monitor whether the student is going home or not.

“If you don’t put a price on it, people will probably abuse it,” Trotman said. “If you put it all out for free, I think it could be a nightmare.”

Martinak hopes the program can grow to match other similar programs, such as the one at Texas A&M which consists of 35 cars.

“My goal is in five years we will literally have a fleet of cars,” he said. “I think it would also be cool if we had a Sunday service too, so like, if students wanted to go up to Meijer or like Kroger, I just think it would be really cool.”

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