Senators aim to beef up Safe Ride Program

Mitch Leclair

Mitch Leclair

The Students’ Association “Safe Ride” program is going through some changes.

Unfortunately for some, a free cocktail while you ride isn’t one of them. Instead, the SA is trying to obtain funding to enhance the program.

SA President Alex Halbach said one of the main goals for this year is to make some slight adjustments and develop a basic infrastructure for the program.

“We need to adapt the routes, and change them as necessary,” he said. Halbach hopes this year, the SA can acquire benches, trash receptacles and other basic upgrades. Concrete benches and other markers would make the stops more visible to prospective riders, and hopefully that will get more people to utilize the program. These changes will be made possible through grants and other sources.

Therein lies the problem – money. All programs and activities on campus need funding. Thus far, the Safe Ride program has been very fortunate to have strong support throughout the university, community, and state. Until now, the program has survived on three main sources of income: an $8,000 grant from the SA, a $12,000 grant from the South Dakota Department of Transportation (made possible by the HEROH chapter here on campus) and additional funding from the Brookings Area Transit Association.

Although appreciated, the current funding is not infinite. Safe Ride needs more sources of money. The SA has gone to the state and requested money. If finalized, the grant will be 80/20 – eighty percent provided by the state, twenty by the SA.

According to Mitch Fargen, liaison to the Brookings City Council, the SA has also sent out letters to local businesses concerning advertising possibilities.

“All the money [generated by the ads] would go back into the program,” he said.

So where does the Safe Ride program go from here? Anywhere the students want, according to Halbach.

“We are always looking for suggestions. Any changes that will benefit the students are welcomed,” he said.

The program has been rather successful thus far. Halbach commented that 460 riders used the buses during Hobo Week. Through grants and possibly some advertising, the SA hopes to improve the Safe Ride program and attract even more students.

Halbach said that if anyone has any suggestions, they should forward them to either him or the SA. After all, he said, “It’s a program for the students.” The Safe Ride program has been effective, but it can be improved. Until then, see you on the bus.