It’s hard to imagine spending a weekend in East Lansing without finding yourself in a situation in which you need to use a taxi.
Whether it’s a way of getting back from a party or a trip to the bar, East Lansing’s taxicab services are a staple to the weekend nightlife scene in the city.
For about $6 a trip, taxicabs offer East Lansing residents and students a safe and reliable form of evening transportation, saving them from potentially harmful situations.
Omari Sankofa II
However as valued as this service is, in time, the cost of paying for these rides becomes an inconvenience many feel is too excessive.
But this problem might become a concern of the past thanks to a new bill passed by MSU’s undergraduate student government.
On Thursday night, ASMSU general assembly members voted to pass a bill to increase the student tax by 50 cents to fund three vehicles to provide safe evening transportation.
The increase of tax comes from the amount undergraduate students already pay for the student government’s services and will be raised from $18 to $18.50 per semester per student.
The Safe Ride program will offer free transportation home to any ASMSU tax-paying student, and be operational Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. The cabs will be operated by students, with job postings being made available on MySpartanCareer.com.
A pilot program is set to be launched next month to see how students respond to the service, but, if successful, this program indicates something that has the potential to do enormous good for the students at MSU.
At almost any point throughout the year, many risks can await an individual who doesn’t have access to a safe form of transportation.
From extreme weather conditions in the winter to the risk of abuse and sexual assault, finding an inexpensive method of going to and from desired locations can be a risky undertaking for many students.
For those who elect not to pay the fee charged by taxicab services, these fears become things they must be cautious of during their late-night walks.
But ASMSU’s new program has the potential to make finding a reliable ride home at the end of the night something not exclusive to those who are able to repeatedly pay this fee.
For the additional 50 cents a year, students not only will be able to avoid paying the cost associated with the using a taxicab service but also avoid many of the other risks students face late at night on the weekends.
Although some could question whether this program is really feasible — and whether three vehicles is enough to shuttle thousands of students home each night — the tremendous upside to this program is something that’s impossible to overlook.
If carried out in the best way, ASMSU’s Safe Ride program could reduce drunken driving incidents, limit the amount of money students incur on traditional taxicab services and make the fears associated with walking home at night something no one has to deal with.
A student-body vote to increase the fee or not will take place in April, and hopefully this program is approved and can become the first of many steps toward improving the overall safety of students.