University to replace SafeRide with new shuttle service

Catherine Ann Taylor

Tulane’s SafeRide shuttle program, which the Tulane University Police Department currently operates, will end operations at the end of the spring semester. Brian Lowe, manager of Tulane’s transportation department, said a new shuttle route called the Gold Zone will operate in SafeRide’s place. Gold Zone will pick up students from four stops on campus and drop them off at their houses or cars from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m. all week. The shuttle will not pick up students off campus, as SafeRide currently does.  

Lowe said the changes will bring major improvements because the late-night route will now serve solely as a campus safety device and not a taxi service for students. To fill that need, Lowe said the Carrollton/Freret Entertainment Line will transport students to various stops along Freret , Maple and Oak Streets every Thursday through Saturday from 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

In addition, the Pappi shuttle line will transport students from campus to the Pappillion and Deming apartment complexes, the health sciences campuses and a 24-hour Walgreens pharmacy until midnight Monday through Friday.

“It’s a lot of offerings,” Lowe said. “It’s a lot bigger than what SafeRide

currently does.”

For students who need to travel outside those areas, Lowe said the transportation department made agreements with N’awlins

and Carriage cab companies to install a cabstand at the corner of Willow Street and McAlister

Drive this fall, which will give priority to students. From midnight to 6 a.m., the cabstand will move to the front of Bruff

Commons and will accommodate between six and eight cabs. Lowe said there will be multiple cab stands on campus during move-in and move-out days and for major holidays. Both companies have also agreed to give Tulane students top priority when they call for a cab.

“Easter is going to be our first roll out of this new venture with the two selected cab companies,” Lowe said. “I think the students will migrate to them when they see the amount of offerings and the amount of effort [the companies] are putting into this program.”

Lowe said that the cab service will transport students to places the Gold Zone will not go.

“The cab companies fill that niche that we can’t fill and that we don’t want to be in the business of trying to fill,” Lowe said. “The cab companies already have the infrastructure for dispatchers and for [travel] apps, and for online reservations, and that’s what they do. The university provides a lot of transportation, but we’re not telling everybody we’re everything because we’re not.”

Sophomore Connor Kennel said he believes the new shuttle lines do not cater to students who find themselves a few blocks off campus at night and need a ride home.

“I think it’s definitely going increase the amount of people who are going walk home alone in shady areas just because they’re not going to want to pay for a taxi,” Kennel said. “It might lead to higher crime rates in the community.”

Michael Moore, the operations manager of the transportation department, said he thought the new shuttle lines, especially the Gold Zone, would put parents’ minds at ease about their student’s safety because the Gold Zone has a reliable schedule that Safe Ride does not.

“I can see in the near future that the parents who are sending their students to Tulane, knowing this is in place is going to have a big impact with them coming to this college,” Moore said. “Knowing that their students will not be left out standing on a street corner waiting on a SafeRide

. We have certain routes with the Gold Zone that will be running constantly.”

Moore said there is a possibility of expanding some routes if initial plans go smoothly.

“We don’t want to overkill, but we want to step into it knowing that we have enough coverage [of the routes],” Moore said.

The new changes have been in the planning stages for more than a year. Moore said they will go into effect July 1.

“We’re not rushing into it,” Moore said. “We’ve had some good input, and now it’s time to implement this program.