Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Safe Ride service returns with new health and safety protocols

March 19, 2021
<p>Logo for the Associated Students of Michigan State University&#x27;s Safe Ride program.</p>

Logo for the Associated Students of Michigan State University's Safe Ride program.

Photo by Brigid Kennedy | The State News

The Associated Students of Michigan State University announced that Safe Ride is returning for MSU students after the ride service was suspended in the fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The late-night ride service gives students free transportation instead of having to walk home in the dark to reduce the threat of sexual violence on campus. 

Safe Ride returns with new health and safety protocols to protect students and drivers from the virus, such as filling out Michigan State and Safe Ride’s health and safety questionnaire and limiting it to one rider per trip. 

“Students don't have to risk a part of themselves, that being safety, and saying ‘I could potentially go out and who knows what happens to me, if I have to walk home from work, or I have to walk home from the 6 p.m. class or 5 p.m. class that I have,'" ASMSU Vice President for Finance and Operations Jordan Polk said. "They'd have to risk that part of themselves, at least that part of the Spartan experience. And on the flip side, they can know that ASMSU has them covered at least in the last two months.”

The service will be provided seven days a week like before but will be available in a different time period than in past years. Previously, Safe Ride was available between 9 p.m. and 2:30 a.m., but will be offered between 6 p.m. and 12 a.m. this semester.

“We had gotten multiple requests from students previously that they would like to see the service start earlier, as opposed to, traditionally, it starts at 9 p.m.,” Polk said. “And this semester, not just the benefit of encouraging students to use the service for its true intention and offering a safe ride home from work and class, as opposed to other opportunities at late night.”

Polk said that ASMSU is looking to expand the hours of Safe Ride moving forward to expand the service to help as many students as possible to improve wait times for rides. It can also improve the college experience for students by reducing their worry.

“We'd love to offer it at the most optimal hours that serve students in the right method and the right intention,” Polk said. “And then also doing it in the most effective and efficient way possible by decreasing those wait times and making sure that we have vehicles available and are safely providing that service for the driver and the rider.”

Students must register for Safe Ride with ASMSU before being able to use the service. Registration can be found on the ASMSU website or by calling the ASMSU office. Once registered, riders will have to fill out MSU’s health waiver confirming that they have no symptoms or been exposed to COVID-19. 

The health waiver must be presented to the driver before entering the vehicle, and services could be denied if the health waiver is not filled out before the ride. 

In addition to filling out the health waiver and registering, Safe Ride will only allow trips of up to 15 minutes for one person to reduce exposure time between people, have a plexiglass barrier between the driver and rider and clean the car after every trip. 

Safe Ride can be accessed through the TransLoc Rider App and selecting Michigan State University on the app after registering. Create an account using your MSU NetID and request a ride. The app will tell you if the service is currently available or not running at that time. 

ASMSU suspended the student tax for Safe Ride for this semester in the fall to reduce the financial impact of the program while many students are struggling financially because of the pandemic.

“We ultimately decided this semester not to tax students for Safe Ride and use the funds that we had on reserve from previous years because students were going through financial hardship,” Polk said. “So, not taxing them for Safe Ride just seemed like the best path from the (General Assembly) and from ASMSU as a whole.”

Polk said that bringing back Safe Ride and not taxing students for the service is to make sure that all students are financially supported during the pandemic, especially if they have to work or go to class in person.

“We're trying to bridge that gap where we're making opportunities more equitable and more fair,” Polk said. “So, that was the ultimate purpose of why we brought it back, that was something that was really meaningful to me was in making sure that we're ensuring that that bridge is met.”

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