SURE Ride gets a makeover: Students hope to see expansion of renamed UT Night Rides program

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The free ride-hailing service formerly known as SURE Ride has been renamed UT Night Rides this semester. 

While the program now goes by a new name, nothing about its operation has changed. Sponsored by the University in partnership with Lyft, UT Night Rides provides free rides for students between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. from main campus to designated student residential areas.

UT Night Rides was established primarily to increase safe campus accessibility after the UT shuttles terminate at 11 p.m. nightly, said Blanca Gamez, assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services.

“We provide (shuttle) service to the densest regions in the city where we see students living, and so Lyft complements that service after the shuttles terminate,” Gamez said. “We do look at expanding service each and every semester.”

The program was piloted in the fall of 2017 and served more than 54,000 students in the 2017–18 school year and the summer of 2018 combined, Gamez said. Last semester alone, more than 41,000 students took advantage of the free transportation.

While students appreciate the program, some think it would be beneficial to expand the service’s pickup zones into student residence areas such as West Campus, North Campus and Riverside.

“People in North Campus or Riverside sometimes want to study with their friends in West Campus and then they want to get home without walking,” psychology senior Karishma Bajaj said. “I guess you could walk to campus and get picked up there, which would be better than not getting a ride at all, but I feel like the campus (pickup) zone should probably be expanded to West and North Campus, just so more people use it.”

Bajaj lives in North Campus and uses the service for the same reason many students do — a safe ride home.

“I’m someone who walks home late even though I shouldn’t,” Bajaj said. “I don’t feel like spending money, and so knowing I don’t have to spend money makes it something where I don’t have an excuse to not get home safely.”

Joshua Iwe, an electrical computer engineering sophomore, said he often uses UT Night Rides after late nights on campus doing schoolwork or when he is at a friend’s place late and can walk to campus for the free ride. Iwe said he has a friend who he feels is “only able to pull off” living in Riverside because of UT Night Rides.

“He will stay on campus all day and after 11 p.m., he takes a ride home,” Iwe said. “It was a way for him to be able to handle whatever he had to do here and go back home driven as opposed to waiting for a bus and (feeling) sketched out.”

While Iwe could hail rides to any place within the West Campus dropoff zone, he said it would be helpful for students living on campus if rides could also originate in the drop-off areas. 

“I wish these rides took me back to campus too,” Iwe said. “Last year I lived on campus and I could take a ride to Whataburger … but I (had to) walk back.”

 

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