Safe Ride pilot run starts

Amber Armstrong

Amber Armstrong

SDSU students and the Brookings community will soon have an alternate ride home after a night out on the town.

Students Association (SA) has teamed up with the Leadership Brookings class, Brookings Area Transit Authority (BATA) and SDSU Student Health to offer a safe ride home.

“We’re concerned about the personal safety of everyone in the community, so that makes having a safe ride a necessity,” said former SA President Ryan Brunner.

Starting March 30, a six-week trial program will run Thursday through Saturday from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m., with only drop-offs between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. The “Safe Ride” bus will travel a constant loop in two 15-minute intervals, with stops along the way. The entire route takes half an hour to complete.

“The schedule provides consistency for someone riding down or going home. They know when the bus will be there,” said Brunner.

The bus can hold between 20 and 25 people, with a driver and a monitor on the ride. The monitor is there for safety and security reasons. The ride will be free for SDSU students and $5 dollars for anyone else.

The program began due to concern over the high number of drunk drivers on Brookings roads. In 2001, Brookings was no. 1 per capita for DUI arrests. In 2003, Brookings ranked third in the nation for drunk driving. The proposal committee believes this is due, in part, to South Dakota’s extreme weather and long walking distance from residential areas to downtown.

“We are promoting responsible choices in hopes of reducing DUIs, vandalism to the community and altercations that occur downtown after the bars close their doors,” said Jenna Rowe, a member of the Leadership Brookings class.

Even though the program is intended to give students and community members a safe ride home from the bars, underclassmen under the age of 21 can also utilize the bus services.

The proposal for “Safe Ride” is estimated to cost between $16,000 and $20,000 a school year. The program will receive funds from downtown businesses wanting to advertise. That money will then be doubled in the form of match grants from the federal government and the South Dakota Department of Transportation.

The trial program will be evaluated throughout the rest of the semester through surveys and questionnaires. Brunner said more information will be distributed on how to submit suggestions once the program begins.

“We’re going to make changes and get feedback as we move forward,” said Brunner.

The proposal committee hopes that this form of transportation will limit the number of DUIs and arrests made in Brookings County and provide a safe ride home.

“It’s going to take communication, coordination, and cooperation for what we’re trying to do, but I’m excited about it and I hope it’s supported by students and the community,” said Brenda Schweitzer, a BATA representative.

The bus will stop at each stop every 30 minutes. One bus runs both the Yellow and Blue Line. The Blue Line is a 15-minute cycle and the Yellow Line is a 15-minute cycle.

The stops are as follows: