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ASUA SafeRide to launch app next week

ASUA SafeRide passengers ride with driver Michael Bowman on April 11. SafeRide is launching an app this month to allow users to request rides easier.
File Photo

ASUA SafeRide passengers ride with driver Michael Bowman on April 11. SafeRide is launching an app this month to allow users to request rides easier.

ASUA SafeRide, the UA’s free transportation service, is launching a free app on Sept. 12[1] that will make requesting rides more accessible to users.

The app will function similarly to ride-share services like Uber and Lyft, allowing users to request a ride at the click of a button, track the progress of their driver and enter their pickup spot and destination.

The development of the app began about a year ago when previous SafeRide administrative director Dakota Maness moved to find a way to make it happen.

SafeRide collaborated with UA Parking and Transportation Services to begin development. PTS uses a company called TransLoc to track the CatTran’s location in real time. A partnership SafeRide joined in on and the process to build the app began.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Saile Daimwood, SafeRide’s current administrative director.

As of right now, the system is being tested in small, closed groups before being widely released. The app, which is called Rider by TransLoc, will allow students, faculty and employees to track the CatTran during the day and request SafeRide at night.

Daimwood said TransLoc requires all cars to have iPads that will help drivers track ride requests and get turn-by-turn directions.

He said that he hopes this newly implemented system will help to improve SafeRide’s functionality.

“[The app] should give you an estimated time of arrival, and also it will text you when your driver is actually on their way to you, and it will text you when they’re outside, which will hopefully then reduce the amount of calls that are missed and that we have to scratch and, by that, reduce frustration overall for both sides,” Daimwood said.

Students in the past have had complaints about how long is takes to use SafeRide, sometimes deciding that it is not worth the wait.

Jenna Malkin, a psychology senior, is one of many students who hopes this app will change that experience.

“I think it’ll be good because I remember when I used it having to wait forever to talk to anyone,” Malkin said. “And I think it’ll make it faster and more convenient. I would use it.”

ASUA Administrative Vice President Tatum Hammond, who has attended SafeRide conferences and been talking about the implementation of the app for over three years, said she is looking forward to the app finally becoming available.

“I think that’s one thing we’ve seen with SafeRide in how it can improve its accessibility and I think it’s just going to change how students get around on campus and get around in the surrounding areas,” she said.

Hammond added that Oregon State, which adopted its own SafeRide app two years ago, has since had to double its fleet of vehicles due to increased demand. While that may be a hope for the future, Hammond said that UA’s SafeRide is not currently at a place financially for that to happen right away.

The funding for the app comes from the student services fee. Daimwood said that Maness had to write a full grant request to be able to use the student service fee, citing how he thought the grant would improve SafeRide.

Once the app becomes available for the public to use, SafeRide will continue to provide the same services as in the past, just more digitally.

“Currently with SafeRide, we do like a carpooling system where drivers may pick up multiple calls if they’re going similar directions, and the app also does that,” Daimwood said. “So we’ll be able to route all of that and it will hopefully be able to make us more efficient.”

SafeRide’s boundaries extend two miles north of campus, and one mile out in every other direction and operates from 6:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. every Sunday through Thursday. 

READ: UA SafeRide expands its routes

Editor’s Note: [1] The story originally stated the app would launch Sept. 6, but due to a need for more comprehensive testing, ASUA SafeRide has pushed the launch back to Sept. 12. 

Follow Leah Merrall on Twitter.

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