4-RIDE sees uptick in riders in month after automation

More students are using the 4-RIDE shuttle service after the University automated the program allowing students to request rides online and receive arrival notifications.

The number of students requesting 4-RIDEs from Sept. 5 to Oct. 5 jumped to about 5,430 calls, up from about 4,430 calls during that time last year.

The total number of riders reached about 9,370 in that span, a more than 1,600-person spike from the year before.

“We hope that the automated system is contributing to this trend, but this is a better question for riders themselves,” Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell said.

The University launched the online portal to request 4-RIDEs Sept. 16, after a yearlong process to create a system allowing students to book rides online and opt to receive text message or e-mail notifications with estimated arrival times.

Darnell said since the system was automated, about 20 users book online on average weekdays, a number that increases to about 40 users on weekends. 4-RIDE transports 260 students a night.

The average pickup time varies based on the volume of calls received, and because the system only recently went live, University officials are “still working on technical details to calculate the average pick up time from the time the request for service is received and until the pick-up is completed,” he said.

Students previously complained about drawn-out wait times, a problem Darnell said the now-automated fleet is looking to tackle.

A 4-RIDE driver, who asked to remain anonymous, as drivers are not authorized to speak to the media, said students seem to be happier with the ability to book rides online and receive notifications, but the system has no impact on how many students are “no-shows” – users who request a ride but never show up.

Darnell said the University would consider adding more vehicles to the 17-van fleet if officials see a need.

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