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Students hope Safe Ride extends hours amid continued improvement to the app

Students said while they appreciate UCLA Safe Ride services, but felt they could be improved by extending hours and by further developing the UCLA Safe Ride app. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Kaylan Kha

Jan. 30, 2019 12:11 a.m.

Students and administrators suggested that a campus van service extend its operating hours and refine its mobile application.

The UCLA Safe Ride program allows students to call vans from 7 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday to pick them up and drop them off at designated stop locations on campus and surrounding areas in Westwood. The service, which is accessed through the UCLA Safe Ride app, has transported more than 21,000 passengers in the past academic year, averaging 200 people per operating night, according to UCLA Transportation.

Michelle Velasco, a fourth-year sociology student, said she thinks extending the program’s hours to operate the entire week would greatly benefit students.

“It would increase the amount of safety on campus, especially when organizations have meetings on Fridays. So if Safe Ride were a thing, people would have a guaranteed way of getting home,” Velasco said.

UCLA spokesperson Katherine Alvarado said in an email statement UCLA Transportation’s Safe Ride service is only available from Monday through Thursday because the service does not have enough funding to operate the entire week. The complimentary service is meant to supplement BruinBus operations.

“Existing sources of transportation funding are limited, and primarily intended to support the reduction of single occupancy vehicle trips on campus,” Alvarado said.

Administrators are continually improving the UCLA Safe Ride app, Alvarado added.

Matt Ellis, Community Service Officer program manager, said that CSO has been working with the application’s software provider to calculate more accurate estimated times of arrival.

“ETAs are hard to predict with multiple riders who have multiple destinations on each van. Riders rarely have to wait longer than 15 minutes for a van, but ETAs given on the app will sometimes predict longer waits, causing ride requesters to cancel,” Ellis said.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council Facilities Commission helped create the app two years ago.

Facilities Commissioner Julia Ho-Gonzalez said Safe Ride services have improved since the launch of the Safe Ride application. Instead of calling a number to request a van, which students said caused much confusion, users can simply use the app.

“Students have a centralized app where they can request a pick up service for themselves and their friends, view the designated pick-up and drop-off locations, keep track of the van’s location and have an ETA,” Ho-Gonzalez said.

Alessandra Martinez, who graduated in 2018, said she often stayed on campus late for extracurricular activities when she was a student and that she found Safe Ride helpful.

“Safe Ride saved a lot of time because I wouldn’t have to worry about walking alone if I was on campus until 10 or 11,” Martinez said.

Ellis said UCLA Transportation is working to integrate the Center for Accessible Education’s van service into the safe ride app. CAE declined to comment for this story.

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