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Twin Safe Ride service begins

By Pablo Castro

The Safe Ride shuttle service switched to a two-van, set-route system yesterday. The switch was met with mixed reaction and some confusion, with van users complaining of not being able to distinguish between the Cambridge and the Boston van and other users complaining of long wait times, said Cambridge route van driver Katie O'Ryan.

"Changes were originally made because Campus Police was getting swamped with calls from people going to parties," said O'Ryan. "The van was becoming a party van, not a police-run escort van. The system had to be changed," she said.

"There has been some confusion because people weren't aware that a change was taking place," O'Ryan said. "A lot of confusion also arose with people not being able to read the number 1 and number 2 stickers" that distinguish the Cambridge and Boston vans, O'Ryan said.

Riders also complained a having to wait outside for long periods of time, and some said they felt unsafe while waiting outside, O'Ryan said.

"The 25-minute waiting time for the Cambridge van is not very realistic," said O'Ryan. "The Cambridge route has 17 stops. With 2 minutes waiting time at each stop, the total time it takes to run the entire circuit is greater than 25 minutes," said O'Ryan.

Average waiting time totaled 45 minutes for the Cambridge shuttle and 35 minutes for the Boston shuttle, O'Ryan said.

A memorandum released earlier this term by Chief of Campus Police Anne P. Glavin estimates a 25-minute waiting time for the Cambridge shuttle and a 35-minute waiting time for the Boston shuttle.

"I haven't gotten much feedback about the shuttle so far," said Stacey E. McGeever '93. "But my prediction for the future is that come February when people have more time, the van will become less effective. Only 12 people fit in one van. With a crowd waiting for a van, the van will have to pass people. People will have to wait for really long amounts of time," she said.

"It will be a matter of people getting used to the system," O'Ryan said. "People aren't used to it right now, but after a few weeks the system should run more smoothly," she said.

Use of the safety van has been minimal so far, she said.

Glavin said large groups going to the same destination should not use the safety van, adding that the shuttle service is there for lone travelers.

Previously the shuttle had been available on a per-demand basis, in which users called in for rides to requested destinations in the Boston and Cambridge area. The program was expanded to a two-van, set-route system last night.

Shuttle 1 travels through 17 stops in Cambridge and the MIT campus. Shuttle 2 runs through 11 stops and serves the Boston fraternities. Stops to Epsilon Theta, Zeta Beta Tau and pika are not on the scheduled route and stops are made at these locations upon request.