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UCLA extends SafeRide hours during finals in effort to increase student safety

The UCLA SafeRide app is pictured. The transportation program will run extended hours during finals week to bring students from campus to the Hill and neighboring residential areas. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Dylan Winward

March 15, 2023 4:12 p.m.

Expanded hours of UCLA SafeRide will run during finals week, offering students on-demand rides between 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. from campus to the Hill and nearby residential areas.

The temporary expansion of the program comes after lobbying from leaders in the Undergraduate Students Association Council, UCLA spokesperson Katherine Alvarado said in an emailed statement. The pilot program hopes to collect data about the number of riders on the service to investigate the possibility of running extended regular hours in the future, she added.

Historically, the program has only run until midnight on Mondays through Thursdays. According to Alvarado, the reason for the historically smaller coverage was largely driven by issues surrounding cost and driver availability.

SafeRide’s expansion is important to ensure that students can get home safely after attending academic and social events around campus, said Carl King Jr., the president of USAC. He added that this was particularly important because of concerns about student safety, especially for female students, after recent on-campus attempted kidnappings.

[Related link: UCPD increases patrols amid investigation of attempted robberies, kidnapping]

“My office is mostly run by women, and a lot of them express some of their concerns,” said King, a third-year business economics student. “When they’re walking home late, they don’t have transportation.”

Garsi Feng, the director of public relations and marketing in the USAC Office of the President, said in an emailed statement that the expansion of SafeRide also has the potential to allow for more affordable transportation home.

“The SafeRide program will allow students to get around the Westwood area safely and quickly free of charge,” said Feng, a third-year communications student, in the statement. “For students wanting to stay late on campus to study during finals week, they will not have to worry about how they will get home.”

Feng added that SafeRide is an environmentally sustainable method of safe transportation at night compared to rideshare alternatives like Lyft or Uber, which had also been proposed by members of USAC.

[Related link: Carl King Jr. vetoes Lyft funding proposal, cites lack of data transparency]

King said he hopes UCLA will expand the program if there is significant student uptake during the finals week pilot program. The pilot program will be tracking utilization data, Alvarado said in the statement.

“I think the reason why they’re trying to hurry up and do it is because they want to be able to plan during the spring break for when we come back for spring,” King said. “I do think that it’s going to be utilized because finals week, a lot of people are at the libraries pretty late.”

However, not everyone believes in the efficacy of the SafeRide expansion. Kian Kohanteb, the USAC general representative 1, said an issue with SafeRide was that students don’t currently use the service enough. Moreover, he added that it’s harder for students to use SafeRide than other rideshare alternatives such as Lyft, which he said he would prefer to fund.

“Students are already using Lyft: it’s on their phone, they enjoy it, they know the platform, so it’s much easier for them to use it,” said Kohanteb, a second-year political science student.

Both King and Alvarado acknowledged the need for marketing surrounding the pilot program’s expansion. King added that his office will be working to spread awareness of the proposal to a diverse range of communities.

“UCLA Transportation is hopeful that awareness of SafeRide amongst students continues to grow, as our marketing team works with campus partners to spread the word about this important service,” Alvarado added in the statement.

Kohanteb said he does not feel SafeRide meets the needs of students traveling beyond Wilshire Boulevard or into Downtown Los Angeles. He added that USAC should be working to give students more options for safe travel in addition to the SafeRide program.

King also acknowledged that SafeRide’s geofence might mean the program will be less accessible for commuter students. However, he added that he hopes to lobby the administration to expand the services to further locations besides UCLA.

“We’re also exploring other avenues of having transportation for students,” King said. “We’re keeping account for those students who don’t want to just stay at UCLA but actually want to travel and have a good time and not have to pay so much money to do so.”

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Dylan Winward | Features and student life editor
Winward is the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. He was previously a News reporter for campus politics and features and student life. He is also a second-year English literature and statistics student.
Winward is the 2023-2024 features and student life editor. He was previously a News reporter for campus politics and features and student life. He is also a second-year English literature and statistics student.
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