Gold Zone begins late night transportation operations

Maricela Murillo, Contributing Reporter

The Gold Zone, a late night transportation service designed to transport students in-between their off-campus residences and the Uptown campus, began operations in July. Shuttles will also transport students from an off-campus residence to another off-campus residence on a trial basis for Summer and Fall 2014. Tulane created the Gold Zone to replace Safe Ride, a similar shuttle program. 

The Gold Zone boundaries stretch east to Louisiana Avenue, west to the Jefferson Parish line, north to Earhart Boulevard and south to the Mississippi River.

“The way it works is, a student will request transportation either through a phone call or a mobile app,” Manager and Director of Shuttles and Transportation Brian Lowe said. “The name of the app is TapRide. We will pick you up as long as you are within the boundaries. If you’re looking to go outside of these boundaries or to a business, we have other alternatives [for transportation].”

Lowe said that the Gold Zone will strictly take students to residences within the boundaries. 

“We can’t drop you off at the end of the boundary and then have you just walk [outside the boundary],” Lowe said. “We have to drop off at the residence and watch you go in the residence.”

Though the system drops students off strictly at residences and on campus, the Gold Zone will service stops at any pharmacy within the Gold Zone. 

“We worked that out with [the Center for Wellness and Health Promotion],” Lowe said. “They asked us if we would make an exception to the residency [rule] for pharmacies and we said absolutely.”

Tulane University Police Department operated SafeRide. Tulane Shuttles and Transportation operates the Gold Zone. Lowe said that one benefit of this change is the increased efficiency afforded to TUPD.

“It allows the TUPD to focus more on public safety and it took them out of the transportation business,” Lowe said. “It’s still a partnership though. We’re still in constant communication with the police department and assisting with promoting the Rave Guardian Virtual Escort App and traditional escort services.”  

The reorganization of late night transportation occurred after a six-month study of Safe Ride and other late night transportation systems that revealed weaknesses in the transportation program. Lowe and his team worked with a group of students last April to devise a plan to improve late night options.

“We had a lot of meetings with TUPD, [Division of Student Affairs], TheWELL, the Office of Insurance and Risk Management, and a lot of students,” Lowe said. “We wanted to make sure that when we put something out there that the students accept it and it has a lot of buy in.” 

Undergraduate Student Government President Morgan Wittenberg worked with Lowe in collecting student opinions. 

“I chaired the student safety committee and it’s made up of a bunch of different stakeholders on campus,” Wittenberg said. “We have students from both the undergraduate schools as well as the graduate and professional schools and programs. We have everyone from administrators to officers from TUPD, we have representatives from the division of student affairs, we’ve had Loyola student affairs come and engage in meetings with us.”

Senior Justin Catt said the Gold Zone changes may not have the students best interest in mind. 

“At this point it doesn’t seem like they’re concerned about safety,” Catt said. “They’re just concerned about money.”

Michael Schwartz, a junior who served on the student safety committee with Wittenberg, is in support of the Gold Zone. 

“First, it allows TUPD to focus solely on public safety,” Schwartz said. “Second, the Shuttles and Transportation department has more resources to provide a more comprehensive service to our community.”

The Gold Zone operates between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. from Sunday to Wednesday and from 8 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. from Thursday to Saturday.  

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