Safe Rides: students vs. cabbies

By Dalton Karwacki

The Safe Rides Program was instituted to ensure that Rider students could get back to campus safely, but some students have been having issues with the program. A number of  taxi drivers are not too happy, either.

Safe Rides allows Rider students to take up to three cab rides back to campus, free of charge, from Ewing, Lawrence Township and Trenton by presenting a valid Rider ID. The rides are provided by Yellow Cab, the largest cab company in Mercer County. Recently, however, there have been incidents of students calling for a Safe Ride and waiting for unreasonably long periods of time, if a cab arrives at all.

“For some reason, the cab company won’t pick up people,” said SGA Vice President Scott Phillips. “I don’t know if they’re too far away and they don’t want to send drivers out that far, but there have been people who just never got picked up. Other times, people have been waiting for hours after making the call.”

Ronald Graves, a driver for Yellow Cab, explained his experience with some of Safe Rides’ student customers.

“What about the students who call and never come out when we come?” said Graves. “Or the ones who do finally come out and do nothing but harass us? It gets to a point where we don’t want to go to them because we don’t want the trouble.”

Graves said that the vast majority of Rider students don’t cause any trouble, but some of them get completely out of hand and are the worst customers he has had in his eight years as a driver.

“Most of the students are very courteous, and I never have a problem,” Graves said. “You have that maybe 10 percent though, who are just too intoxicated and disrespect you and give you trouble the entire time.”

He said that, for many drivers, the fact that there is no money changing hands at the end of that ride is a reason why drivers don’t want to deal with the problem passengers.

“When you’re paying for a service, you’re more likely to stay respectful,” Graves said. “Some of these people, though, knowing that they aren’t paying for the ride, just get disrespectful. We just have to trust that Rider will pay us later, and that makes it hard to want to deal with it.”

He went on to say that, while he understands that the program is intended to make sure that intoxicated students can get back safely, he feels that some students have taken unfair advantage of the program. He also made a request of students using the service.

“All we ask is that you just be courteous and have your ID ready so we can get you back to school with no problems,” Graves said.

Yellow Cab defended its record with the Safe Rides program.

“We have never received any complaints about the program,” said a manager at Yellow Cab. “When we receive a pickup call, we send someone out as quickly as possible.  If anyone ever has a problem, they should call us with the time and location of the problem.”

Senior Dana Dever experienced a problem with the company after waiting a period of time for the cab to show up.

“Last year, we called Safe Rides, and they would pick up and hang up on us for 45 minutes and finally ignored [us],” she said. “They called back at 4 a.m. asking what we wanted, and they said they had to stop giving rides because one of the drivers quit because he was afraid of black people. I haven’t used Safe Rides since and I tell people not to use it.”

Additional reporting by Valis Vicenty.

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