Last Friday, Aug. 23, Northwest unveiled its new Safe Ride Shuttle, the latest addition to the program. As students stepped on the bus, they were greeted by a Safe Ride Ambassador and were invited to ride 13-seat shuttle bus anywhere...from 16th Street to Wal-Mart.
Student Regent Ashton Raffety was one of the inaugural members of the Safe Ride Shuttle bus ride.
“I was at a conference in St. Joseph with all the other student board members in the state,” Raffety said. “A lot of them were talking about how they had shuttle programs that brought students around, and I thought that was a great idea.”
He brought that idea to Clarence Green, University Police chief, in the fall of 2012. The Shuttle was made possible by a contribution of $10,000 from the Northwest Student Senate, as well as a grant award from the Gladys Rickard Charitable Trust for $20,800.
The Safe Ride Home program’s shuttle bus system will give more students the opportunity to have safe transportation around campus and around the Maryville area while accommodating the high volume of ride requests that Safe Ride receives every weekend. Last year alone, Safe Ride vans completed 8,000 student transports, and on average, each van traveled more than 100 miles per night.
“A challenge last year was having long wait times with the minivans,” said Monica McCullough, project and communication coordinator for University Police. “Two of them on average only hold six people, and the handicap minivan only holds three. By having this shuttle as a part of the program, where we can hold about 13 at a time, it really allows us more efficient practices with what we do.”
Safe Ride drivers are on the streets of Maryville every Wednesday through Saturday night. The Safe Ride Shuttle will operate on Friday nights while school is in session, transporting students between 4 p.m. and 2 a.m.
To ride the Shuttle Bus, students will need to present their Bearcat card when entering the shuttle. Guests will be allowed to accompany students on the 13-seat shuttle. Groceries will be allowed onto the bus, but alcoholic beverages will not.
Since its inception in the spring of 2004, Safe Ride has helped reduce the number of DWI instances in the community by 66 percent.
The Safe Ride Shuttle will traffic students to destinations all across Maryville. The scheduled stop locations include: Wal-Mart, Hy-Vee, the Mary Mart Shopping Center, Fourth and Market, Fourth and Buchanan, as well as designated spots on campus such as Parking lot 29 (next to Horizon’s West Apartments) and The Station. The Shuttle stop locations were chosen by popularity of ride requests at each location.
“We are hoping that if it takes off and is successful, that next year we may be able to offer some more services,” McCollough said.