“Tryin’ to Catch Me Ridin’ Safely”

Tanya Dzekon
Staff Writer

Public Safety Nightly Shuttle Service Provides Student Passengers a Safe Ride

Students can utilize the Public Safety night shuttle — a campus-run van that picks up and drops off students at different on-campus and nearby off-campus locations — as an option for staying safe on campus after dark. However, the extent of this privilege is unclear. Though students use the service for different reasons — exhausted athletes getting back to campus, intoxicated partiers getting home from bars, students staying late at the library, students wearing heels — the focus of the program is on safety.“Because it’s a ‘no questions asked’ service, students feel comfortable taking it,” Maude Ballinger, a senior communications student said. Ballinger used to take the shuttle frequently when she lived in Lone Mountain her sophomore year.

 

As stated on the Department of Public Safety (DPS) website: “[The shuttle’s] primary purpose is to provide reasonable transportation to classes, on campus locations, and off campus residences within the boundaries of the service.”

What is reasonable? Hannah Helser, administrative coordinator at Public Safety, explained that it means that students must stay within neighborhood boundaries. While students with disabilities or injuries are placed on the priority list, the service is open to all students, staff, and faculty on a first-come, first-served basis.

“The Public Safety night shuttle provides rides for students, faculty and staff who may not feel safe walking alone,” Helser said. “If a student is intoxicated, they won’t be told no, but the shuttle is not a taxi service to or from bars, restaurants or bus stops”.

Ballinger thinks that the service is useful for students that have been drinking. “It’s especially important for scantily clad young ladies under the influence,” she said. Ballinger acknowledged that she often saw residents of Lone Mountain taking the shuttle to friends’ houses and nearby bars. “They were definitely intoxicated when they got back, and would sometimes even take alcohol on the shuttle with them to secretly drink on the ride there.” Ballinger praised the nightly shuttle services, adding, “It’s a service that Public Safety provides to college students, and it’s doing exactly that — keeping students safe.”

“We don’t really get drunk calls like people would think,” one of the nightly shuttle drivers said. “The only time I had drunk kids was after the Macklemore concert.” The driver emphasized that he didn’t care if the passengers were intoxicated, he just wanted them to be safe.

“I know a lot of kids will say they use it as a taxi service, but there’s reason to be worried for your safety — students are easy targets for robberies,” said the driver. ”I don’t want to wake up in the morning and read something about a student who got hurt when I could have given them a ride.”

According to the latest Public Safety Bulletin (posted on the Department of Public Safety website), a USF student was robbed at gunpoint on-campus on Saturday Sept. 7. The student was walking eastbound on Anza Street near Loyola village when two suspects stole her belongings, at approximately 1 a.m.

A female student riding the night shuttle on Friday Sept. 6 — just one day before the reported theft — explained her reasoning for calling the van. “We live in San Francisco and it’s an urban environment, so sometimes it feels unsafe. There are a lot of dark alleys in between here and Fulton Street — would you rather risk it or just call Public Safety?”

The student, a resident of Lone Mountain dorms who wishes to remain anonymous, takes the shuttle from an Inner Richmond residence to the dorms frequently, she said.

Though the service is geared towards keeping all students safe, the Public Safety office makes it clear that the shuttle has a primary responsibility to students, staff, and faculty with disabilities. To enter the priority call list, injured or disabled students must first register with Student Disabilities Services (SDS) located on the bottom floor of Gleeson Library.

“I used the shuttle a few times when I injured my foot and couldn’t walk. It was always great, even if it took awhile,” Andy Swope, a senior marketing student said.

Elizabeth Rofoli, a senior art history major, registered with SDS for a temporary injury when she broke her ankle, and said it was an easy process. “I’m constantly injured and I used [the shuttle] a lot last semester. San Francisco is impossible to maneuver in crutches, so it was a blessing,” Rofoli added. “They definitely need multiple shuttles.”

ASUSF Senate approved a decision in May to provide funding for an additional shuttle to be added during peak times. The Public Safety office wasn’t ready to give out official data, but Helser said that during late evenings, after classes on Monday through Thursday, is when the shuttle is most in demand.

The Public Safety Nightly Program provides a shuttle that operates Sunday through Wednesday, 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Thursday through Saturday, 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. The dispatch can be reached at 415-422-4201.

If you need assistance getting home or to campus after 3 a.m., you can make a request for a Safety Escort, available from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

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