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SafeRide Replaces Vans, Online Tracking Expected

By Jenny Zhang

STAFF REPORTER

SafeRide, MIT’s nighttime transportation service, has replaced some of its vans with buses on busier routes and may soon implement the new Web Global Positioning Satellite I-Campus project.

The buses are able to fit 22 seated passengers and some additional standing passengers, as opposed to vans, which can only seat approximately 15.

“We have about 200,000 riders a year each for SafeRide and Tech Shuttle; that’s a lot,” said Lawrence R. Brutti, operations manager for parking and transportation. “Eventually, we would like to put buses on all SafeRide routes so there will be room for everyone, especially when demand goes up in the winter. ... Right now, we have four vans and three buses.”

Over the past summer, MIT purchased buses to use during both the SafeRide and Tech Shuttle hours. SafeRide has put one of its older vans up for sale with the MIT property office.

GPS to locates vans

The I-Campus GPS project is currently being developed to allow riders to see online whether buses have passed a certain location and get a prediction of when a bus will reach a desired stop.

“I-Campus is a kind of research project. Hopefully, by the end of this semester we’ll be done. If it’s not completed by then, our team’s still going to stop working on it. In that case, others would have to finish it in order to make this work,” said Salil Soman G, one of the original members of the GPS project.

According to the I-Campus Web site, one advantage to showing bus locations online is that it may eventually become possible to view the information from wireless handheld devices. Wireless ethernet access is already available across much of the campus.

“I’m looking forward to putting I-Campus into action as soon as possible; they’re working on it. I was hoping it would be in sooner,” Brutti said.

I-Campus projects are sponsored by Microsoft.

Students support changes

Riders say SafeRide’s service would be greatly improved by the I-Campus project and increased bus use.

“SafeRide has been late many times. You never know when it’s going come, and the vans are not always large enough to fit everyone,” said Alice A. Savage, ’05.

GSC van donation

The Graduate Student Council has raised $15,000 toward buying a SafeRide van to run routes more often.

“I think $15,000 more must be raised before a complete van can be bought,” said H. Sanith Wijesinghe G, president of the GSC. “Another $100,000 in addition is necessary for operating costs, basically maintaining the route and paying drivers.

“Currently, there’s been efforts to put that as a request into the upcoming MIT SafeRide budget. It hasn’t gone in this year’s cycle so we’re trying to advocate that going in for next year,” Wijesinghe said.

“It would be wonderful if the GSC could donate a van to us,” Brutti said.