Campus Safe Ride program gets funding needed to continue

Amber Armstrong

Amber Armstrong

The South Dakota Department of Transportation has finalized its decision to match grant funds up to $12,000 per school year for the next three years for the Safe Ride program.

“Funding is pretty much secure now,” said Students’ Association president Alex Halbach.

The program was depending on this grant money to run the program. Safe Ride is expected to cost between $16,000 and $20,000 per school year. Some of the money to run the bus will come from local businesses and the rest, up to $12,000 a year, will come from the Department of Transportation.

Halbach said since nothing like this has ever been tried in Brookings, no one is quite sure exactly how much the program will cost. But, after the six-week pilot program, the proposal committee will have a better idea of the expenses.

The program will be re-evaluated at the end of the pilot program to determine if the community is utilizing the bus service. They will be looking for feedback once Safe Ride gets underway to better service the community.

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

The focus of the Safe Ride program is to keep drunk drivers off the roads, considering Brookings has one of the highest drunk driving ratings in the country. The proposal committee has been working on this project for years, and feels they finally have a decent starting place.

“We’re excited to see results and to see if the program will be utilized,” said Halbach.

The proposal calls for a driver and a monitor on the ride, as it travels around town picking people up at the designated stops. The route includes six stops and takes a half an hour to complete. The bus can hold between 20 and 25 people, and is free for students with their college ID. The ride costs $5 for everyone else. The trial program begins this Thursday, March 30.