Though the Georgetown campus and surrounding neighborhood area are generally considered safe, the university offers a variety of transportation services for its staff, students and faculty. In addition to the neighborhood shuttles, many take advantage of the SafeRides program, a free van transportation service that provides a safe alternative to walking alone at night. Created 15 years ago, the program has expanded to include mobile apps and has also incorporated feedback from students who found the service to be unreliable and inaccessible. Currently, the SafeRides service is available every day of the week, beginning at 8 p.m. The SafeRides vans run until 2 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and until 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
SafeRides is commonly used by students who do not feel comfortable walking after a night of drinking. The evening and late-night hours make sense, as many people feel more unsafe or vulnerable when walking alone at night, whether coming from a party or a late night in Lauinger Library. Given the circumstances, SafeRides should consider expanding its hours of service and including early mornings, especially during the winter season.
Beginning in November, the sun can set before 5 p.m. and rise as late as 7:30 a.m. Many students have to walk to and from campus in the dark because of sports practices, visits to Yates Field House, evening classes and various club meetings during these hours. Especially for those living multiple blocks away from campus in West Georgetown and Burleith, these commutes can be concerning, as would be expected at 12 a.m. In addition, winters in Washington, D.C., often bring freezing rain and snowstorms, which present an additional risk for students who could easily slip on unnoticed patches of black ice in the dark.
SafeRides already relies on student volunteer drivers from the Georgetown University Student Association. However, in order to expand the SafeRides schedule to early mornings and early evenings during the winter, the university should also consider providing work-study for driver positions. The more extensive and flexible schedule would allow students who can’t commit to a 15- to 20-hour work week to take advantage of work-study. The expanded hours would also increase the popularity of the SafeRides service among the student body and encourage more students to err on the side of caution if they are concerned about their safety.
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