By Amber Cox
The Safe Rides program, a well-known commodity on the Rider campus, is undergoing changes to try to stop continual abuse of the program.
The program is a taxicab service that picks up students in emergency situations off-campus and gives them a safe ride back.
Previously, Rider had paid all taxi fares, but because of recent changes, students who are overusing the program will have a $25 bill added to their MyInfo account.
“The Safe Rides program has been abused the past year,” SGA Vice President Scott Phillips said. “Students were using the rides irresponsibly and too frequently. The university and SGA cannot continue to fund the program if students are not using the rides responsibly.”
The cost of the Safe Rides program varies per semester depending on how many students use the program.
“A certain amount of money is designated to pay for the program through the alcohol fines,” Phillips said. “When that runs out, [the] Finance Board has granted money to guarantee the continuation of the program.”
The new changes will go into effect at the beginning of the spring semester and allow students to have three free rides. After the free rides are used, a student will be charged.
“The fee is added to their MyInfo account, which is added to the university bill,” Phillips said.
Rider I.D. numbers of all passengers in the cab will be recorded for the purpose of the cab company. However, the first student to have his or her I.D. number recorded will be the one charged for the ride.
“If the cab driver writes down the first I.D. [number] and that person has used more than three, only that person will get charged for the cab ride,” Phillips said.
The program was started in April of 2008 and a number of problems have been taking place since its start. At the beginning of the Fall 2008, semester the program was not in existence until it was approved by the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Finance Board in October. Last spring, the SGA started to re-examine the program to prevent abuse. Students were originally permitted two free rides per semester. When a student exceeded the number of free rides, he or she was supposed to attend a seminar on alcohol safety and responsibility. However, some students using the program weren’t drinking, so the seminar would not stop abuse of the program.
The SGA did not come up with alternatives for the program before the end of the year.
The new changes for the Safe Rides program are another attempt by SGA to stop abuse of the program.
“Students should use Safe Rides as an emergency and not for any other use,” Phillips said. “It’s important for students to plan their ride home before going out and not relying on Safe Rides.”