4-RIDE expands budget

Students taking 4-RIDE next fall should experience shorter wait times, as the University is allocating more funds to hire more drivers and purchase additional vehicles for the escort service.

The service received an additional $181,000 for next year to supplement its current budget of $500,000, University Police Chief Dolores Stafford said.

“We asked for the increase to improve the current service as we offer it and to make that service as efficient as possible,” Stafford said.

She said the funds will allow her to hire six drivers and purchase four additional vehicles. Currently, 4-RIDE employs 10 drivers and has a fleet of 10 vehicles.

She estimated that additional drivers and vehicles will shorten wait times by 10 minutes. Currently, students experience an average wait time of 20 to 25 minutes, Stafford said.

Students said they hope 4-RIDE service will improve because of the increase in funding.

“I’m happy there are going to be more vehicles because people get disgruntled waiting for 4-RIDE,” freshman Dana Ropper said. “The school is very smart to put more money into a service students actually use.”

Others said 4-RIDE does not need an increase in funding.

“Right now, we don’t need an increase in vans,” freshman Rob Corre said. “I don’t wait long now and I never had a problem …it’s doing it’s job right now without any increase.”

Stafford said she made the request for more funds after the service saw a 41 percent increase in use during the past year. Administrators said that the service would be receiving an increase in February but didn’t disclose specific figures until last week.

Stafford also said UPD implemented a new computerized phone system earlier this month, eliminating the busy signals students heard when calling 4-RIDE in the past. The system, which puts each caller on hold, allows 4-RIDE dispatchers to answer each individual call in the order in which students call.

Stafford said the new system was implemented after students complained about not being able to get through to a dispatcher. Previously, one operator handled five phone lines.

“When dispatchers put people on hold, it makes their job a lot less hectic,” Stafford said.

Some students said the new system has not improved accessibility to dispatchers.

“With the (new system), they answer your call in 10 or 15 minutes,” freshman Bobby Thomson said. “I always hang up and call again until someone answers my call.”

Stafford said the increased funds would enhance campus safety, adding that it does not matter why students used 4-RIDE.

“We don’t want students walking alone at night,” Stafford said. “(By using 4-RIDE), there will be less of an opportunity for students to be victims of crime.”

“If they’re using the escort service, then it increases safety,” Stafford added. “We don’t ask why they use the service.”

UPD is also considering adding another Colonial Express route that would make stops at the Marvin Center, The Aston, Pennsylvania House and City and New halls, Stafford said.

Stafford said UPD is not looking into increasing 4-RIDE hours or extending its service boundaries. Currently, the service takes students to any destination on or within campus boundaries from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day.

Stafford also said 4-RIDE will not transport students to and from the recently purchased Gallery in Rosslyn, Va. She said a limited service shuttle to the residence hall will be provided but would not disclose any other details.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.