Student Government officials are in the process of institutionalizing Safe Ride at UT, but the program must become easier for students with disabilities to use, SG President Kori Rady said.
Safe Ride uses uRide, an Austin-based car service startup, to pick up students from the downtown area and drop them off in West Campus or East Riverside. Safe Ride operates between 11:59 p.m. and 3 a.m. on Thursday–Saturday at no charge for students.
Rady said the program, which is in its pilot year, has reached almost 4,000 people since its implementation in September 2014.
Rady said Safe Ride primarily did not have ADA-accessible cars at the outset because of a lack of resources to fund ADA-accessible cars in full.
“It’s definitely difficult to see a program like Safe Ride, when it’s starting out, having [an ADA] car [available] — it obviously costs more,” Rady said. “It’s going to be a required aspect.”
Safe Ride’s funding doubled from $26,000 in the fall semester, to a $52,000 budget this spring. A portion of that money funds the use uRide vehicles: eight Thursday nights and 10 both Friday and Saturday nights, according to Rady.
In order to make vehicles more ADA accessible, more funding will be required, said Erin Gleim, SG assistant agency director for Students with Disabilities.
“Funding has been requested to make [Safe Ride] accessible or more accessible,” Gleim said.
The cost or method of implementation has not been agreed upon yet, according to Gleim. However, Rady said he has reached out to groups for donations to ensure the program’s longevity.
Making Safe Ride more ADA accessible might mean mobilizing a University vehicle for the program or paying to use an already accessible vehicle, Gleim said.
“There’s kind of different options they’re looking into,” Gleim said. “It’s a big program, so it’s a lot of different things to pull in.”
Rady said he thinks the program has been well-received, and he said he has not heard complaints regarding a lack of accessibility.
“Plenty of students have had an incredible response to it, and, with the hopeful institutionalizing of the program, we’ll be able to fully encompass everyone and every UT student, including those with the ADA aspects,” Rady said.
Dylan Murray, a biology junior who uses a wheelchair, said he has not personally used Safe Ride, but he said he could see it being a problem for other students with disabilities.
“I’ve been in instances where I’ll go to do something, and I’ll get there and can’t,” Murray said. “They definitely should have [made it more accessible] before they initiated [the program].”
Correction: This story has been edited significantly since its original publication. The Safe Ride program requires that students with disabilities give advance notification that they need a ride, and therefore does comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the original article, Student Government President Kori Rady stated that Safe Ride was not yet ADA compliant.