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Shuttle rides to begin Monday

By Josh Hartmann

Beginning next Monday, Campus Police officers will no longer be primarily responsible for providing safe nighttime transportation in marked police cruisers.

That day marks the debut of the new safety shuttle van, "A Safe Ride," which will offer members of the MIT community rides every night between campus, perimeter MIT buildings and all recognized living groups.

"We're starting this as a pilot program," said Jennifer B. Singer '92, co-chair of the Undergraduate Association's Campus Safety Committee, which proposed the idea of the service. Singer said she expected the shuttle service to be "overwhelmingly successful."

The 12-passenger van will cover territory similar to what is already being covered by Campus Police escorts, according to Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin. The main difference, Glavin said, is that the van will serve independent living groups in Boston as well as those near Central Square. "That's the best thing about this," she said.

"It won't go to Central Square for a pizza," Glavin said. "That isn't the purpose of the van." She said safety is the top reason for the van; convenience is secondary.

The shuttle will operate between 6 pm and 3 am Sunday through Wednesday, and until 4 am Thursday to Saturday, Singer said. The phone number for shuttle service is 253-2997.

The $20,000 van was purchased by the Department of Housing and Food Services, Singer said. The provost's office will bear operation costs, including the wages of three drivers, according to Provost Mark S. Wrighton, who added that he expected costs for the first year to be $50,000. Campus Police will provide radio equipment and dispatchers, Glavin said.

"We hope it's used," Wrighton said. "The cost per ride is better when it's used."

Glavin said the van will take some load off the Campus Police officers. "With the other things they had to do, they just couldn't keep up," she said. The officers will continue to provide escort service outside the hours of shuttle operation.

If the shuttle is as successful as Singer hopes, more vans will be purchased, she said. Set routes and times will be arranged as well. Until then, MIT students, faculty and staff can enjoy on-call service, she added.

The shuttle service had been delayed repeatedly over recent months by complications in the hiring procedures for drivers and trouble finding vans of the correct size. The safety committee stipulated last year that drivers not have a criminal record of any kind, said Judith L. Yanowitz '91, co-chair of the committee.