Story updated on Feb. 20 at 12:51 p.m. to include quotes from Jonathan Connolly.
Jonathan Connolly, former Safe Rides student captain, led the push for new Student Government Association legislation that will support a new alternative for secure student transportation during weekend evenings.
Connolly said he was inspired to author the bill following the end of Safe Rides last fall. The program, which provided free weekend evening transportation for students, ended after 26 years because of a lack of volunteers and decrease in ridership.
“I never wanted Safe Rides to go away, it just happened. I’m just glad that there is going to be something in its place,” Connolly said.
The new bill was co-sponsored by Chief of Staff Deena Elrefai and Deputy Chief of Staff for Research Malia Takei.
The bill, S.B. 20-2.1 — nicknamed “Saferides Reimagined’’ — plans to allocate $72,000 to subsidize weekend night Uber rides.
The first phase of this pilot program will begin after Spring Break. Students will get two discounted Uber rides to anywhere within 0.25 miles of campus. The same range as Safe Rides. This radius includes off-campus student residents, such as Crest Apartments.
If the first phase goes well — SGA estimates a 60% usage rate— students will get three rides in fall 2020. There will be a 50% discount with a cap at $3.50 subsidized. For example, if a student normally pays $5 for a ride, they will save $2.50. If they pay $8 or more, they will save $3.50.
The rides will only be subsidized between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Passengers will still have the option to share rides.
In order to qualify for a discount, students must tie their Uber accounts to their Elon emails. SGA Executive President Jack Johnson said he will provide a link to students to register their account for the discount.
The number of rides, the amount subsidized and funds allocated are open to change at the discretion of the SGA Executive Board and adviser if demand is high.
For students taking rides with the discount, the university will have access to GPS data and any complaints students make about the ride to ensure students safety.
For students concerned about traveling alone, Takei said “safety is our number one priority.” The sponsors of the bill encourage students to travel in groups, take advantage of the GPS features and always check the make, model and license plate of the car and the photo of the driver.