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Proposal for Daytime SafeRide May Be Implemented Next Fall

By Jennifer Krishnan

EDITOR IN CHIEF

SafeRide may soon be making daytime runs.

Under a recent proposal, the shuttle would stop at three locations in Boston (Mass. Ave. and Beacon St., Commonwealth Ave. and Charlesgate, and Mass. Ave. and Commonwealth Ave.) before returning to 77 Massachusetts Ave, said Undergraduate Association President Parul Deora ’04.

The service would run from approximately 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, during November, December, February, and March.

“It’s the perfect way to spend student life money,” Deora said.

“I think it’s great that they’re increasing the coverage times,” said incoming GSC president Michael R. Folkert. “It’s a step in the right direction.”

But “in order to really benefit the graduate students, they need to expand the area being covered,” Folkert said.

The FSILG Office will at least partially fund the program. David N. Rogers, assistant dean and director of fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups, said “we’re footing $30,000 ... to support the fraternities and sororities that live on the Boston side” of the river. He indicated the Department of Parking and Transportation would probably cover the remainder of the cost.

Deora said it would cost between $30,000 and $35,000 to provide one year of this service.

The proposal is expected to be finalized in the next few weeks, Deora said.

Rogers and Deora said Dean for Student Life Larry G. Benedict had done most of the research and created the current proposal.

Benedict could not be reached for comment.

Grad students’ plan stalled

The Graduate Student Council proposed two years ago to create a new SafeRide route that would cover area farther north, where more graduate students live.

“The graduate students have a very real problem: ... public transportation stops running” shortly after midnight, said Stephen D. Immerman, director of enterprise services, under whose auspices SafeRide falls.

Folkert said that “a huge portion of the graduate students live off campus” and rely on public transportation. About half of the graduate students in his own lab typically go home after midnight, he said.

However, Immerman said his office did not receive funding this year for the GSC’s proposed project.

In June 2001, the GSC donated $15,000 toward establishing a new route. But the program proposed by the GSC “would cost about $100,000” annually, Immerman said.

“If we can find the resources to extend our services [to areas where more graduate students live], we will,” he said.

Immerman said the money donated by the GSC had been spent on improving the current SafeRide program.

W. Sanith Wijesinghe, president of the GSC, said he supported the implementation of a daytime SafeRide service, but that he also hoped SafeRide would expand area coverage.

SafeRide originally for safety

“When SafeRide was created, it was created simply for safety,” Immerman said.

Before SafeRide was established, the MIT Police gave escorts upon request. Immerman said at the time (about 10 years ago), they gave about 6,000 rides per year.

SafeRide was originally run by the police department, but as it grew, the Department of Parking and Transportation was created to deal with it, Immerman said.

He said SafeRide currently gives about 200,000 rides annually.

The MIT Police still escort people home on request.

Immerman said that the proposed daytime SafeRide service would be more convenience-oriented than safety-oriented.

Undergrads push for day service

While Benedict, the dean for student life, was responsible for daytime SafeRide plan in its current form, several undergraduates have advocated similar plans recently.

Deora said a group of four MIT students came up with a daytime SafeRide plan for a class, and later submitted it to Benedict’s office. While their plan is not the one currently on the table, Deora said Benedict made use of the facts these students had gathered.

Undergraduate Association President-elect Pius A. Uzamere ’04 and David B. Gottlieb ’04, who ran against him, both said publicly that they had created proposals for daytime service and submitted their proposals to Benedict.

Rogers said former Interfraternity Council President Amado G. Dehoyos ’04 had also advocated a daytime shuttle service to the administration.

Folkert said that while extending SafeRide coverage was a concern of the GSC, it had not been a focus of the Council’s efforts recently.

Deora said the plan is being finalized and that it is expected to be implemented starting in November.