Lyndsey Wajert: Automate 4-RIDE’s policies first

The 4-RIDE service the University provides is very helpful, but it can be very frustrating to deal with when drivers provide conflicting information on policies.

Last Sunday, two of my fellow editors and I called a 4-RIDE, and having gone straight to The Hatchet’s townhouse after traveling earlier in the day, I hoped to bring my suitcase with us in the van. The van was already pretty full with other students, but what surprised me the most was that the driver told us that as a policy, students could only bring into the vans what fits on their laps.

Well, that was news to me, and it may surprise you too.

I have taken 4-RIDE upwards of 20 times to avoid uncomfortable walks home or just to dodge the rain. As I was trekking home with a suitcase Sunday, I was worried I would be a target for crime in the at times sketchy area between Ross Hall and the Foggy Bottom Metro.

The driver didn’t give us any other options for my suitcase, so my two friends thankfully just opted to walk me home. But my experience solidified what I’ve often heard – some policies are simply made on the whims of drivers.

Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell said he would look into the specifics of my experience when I spoke with him earlier this week. Ultimately, he noted that 4-RIDE is a security service for students – not a taxi service.

I agree that 4-RIDE should not be used as a taxi service, or as a ride from campus to clubs for girls in high heels. It is supposed to be there for people who want a safe ride home.

But there is a blatant lack of consistency within this department regarding vehicle policies and procedures. We hear of 4-RIDES pulling over and picking up a lone student walking down the street, but then learn of another instance in which a student can’t get in a vehicle unless he or she called for one. We hear about of-age students trying to transport alcohol in closed containers and being turned down for a ride, even though it technically is allowed. The stories are numerous and frustrating.

Before 4-RIDE goes through its highly anticipated technology overhaul, we need a more visible and standardized list of 4-RIDE policies. We need students to be aware of their rights as riders. And we ultimately need drivers to be fully briefed on those rules and adhere to them, no matter the circumstances.

I do not necessarily disagree with the policies – though the “no excess baggage” rule is a problem if it is an actual University rule, because students still need a safe ride home even with a suitcase. I know that 4-RIDE is not a shuttle from the airport. But it is a service for those who want to be safe getting to Gelman Library.

Before we automate the 4-RIDE systems, we need to automate the rules.

Lyndsey Wajert, a junior majoring in journalism, is The Hatchet’s opinions editor.

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