The University Transportation Services Department recently upgraded the RIDE nighttime shuttle service, adding a fresh 14-passenger bus onto its fleet. The route has also been updated to include 17 stops.
Students now feel less burdened by figuring out how to get home due to the improved RIDE services.
“There has been a positive effect because there are more rides in circulation, so you do not have to wait as long for the RIDE,” Arielle Schwartz ’19 said. “My friends and I were actually noticing this past Saturday that the RIDE was everywhere and we did not even have to call for them.”
In a University newsletter, Transportation Services Manager Joe Martocci, who has been with the University for 11 years, said that alterations to the RIDE are derived from hearing out students and obtaining guidance from Public Safety Director Scott Rohde.
“We have changed some of the stops,” Martocci said. “Adding a larger vehicle and modifying the routes will be an experiment, but historically when students suggest ideas, we listen.”
In addition to the changed stops, there are also original and noticeable signs that brand the RIDE as more distinguishable than before.
“Adding this bus to the RIDE program will allow us to move more people more efficiently and more comfortably,” Martocci said.
Martocci also talked about the increased availability of the RIDE for students on the weekend.
“We move over 500 students every weekend,” Martocci said in the University newsletter. “The idea to add another vehicle was to make it more enjoyable for students to use the shuttles. On the weekends, there are now three vehicles in rotation to meet the high demand of students who need a safe way to get around campus at night.”
The RIDE is a highly valued amenity on campus that is sometimes overlooked by students, except when they need it most.
“I think the RIDE is important because it gives students, specifically those without cars, the ability to be safely transported around campus and Middletown at night,” Schwartz said. “Also, it’s really handy in the winter when it gets dangerously cold outside but you have to make a last minute run into town or go to an event across campus.”
RIDE campus shuttles are available seven nights a week, and volume tends to increase on the weekends.
On Sunday afternoons, the University Transportation Office is also offering free off-campus grocery shuttle trips to Price Chopper and Aldi.
When asked if she thought there was a specific time of the week that she used the RIDE most often, Schwartz mentioned that it comes in handy on Saturdays and Sundays.
“Definitely nights on the weekends,” Schwartz said. “Although I think they should also operate all day on the weekends, or at least starting earlier in the afternoon during the winter because it is so cold. I would find that really helpful.”
Despite an increase in transportation need, the cars frequently have availability. Raising the capacity in each car will cater to larger groups hoping to use the RIDE services.
“Only once last year, the RIDE didn’t have enough room for the group of people I was with so some of us walked,” Schwartz said.
The RIDE is also rolling out a new mobile app that will feature the location of the vans in real time, which are equipped with GPS trackers.
Not only is there now an app, but the new bus is also decked out with a combination of luxury and safety. The vehicle is spacious, especially near the boarding area, creating easy and accessible entrance and exit paths. Both the inside and outside have robust lighting, and the van is furnished with leather seats. There are also four new video cameras that will ensure security for those on the bus.
These new changes will see fewer individuals waiting for a ride and more getting home in a timely and safe manner.
To download the app, search Wes Shuttle on iTunes and Android. Students with disabilities can receive special shuttle services by calling (860) 982-8031 during the day or (860) 685-3788 in the evening.