Thursday, August 11, 2022

Mosaic tries something new: UDPD off-campus shuttle service

MosaicMosaic tries something new: UDPD off-campus shuttle service
Simon Stewart/THE REVIEW
To utilize the safety escort program or shuttle service, call 831-RIDE

Managing Mosaic Editor

It was a dark and stormy night when, upon discovering my roommates were too busy to give me a ride back to our off-campus townhouse, I decided to try something new: the recently launched University of Delaware Police Department (UDPD) shuttle service. 

In Oct. 2021, the university announced that they would be expanding UDPD escort services, possibly in response to a domestic violence incident that shook the community and left students outraged. This included the addition of a golf cart service to transport students to on-campus locations and a shuttle service for off-campus locations. 

To be clear, I became aware of the off-campus shuttle from my own research, and not from any sort of university communication. After all, what is our school if not infamously bad at making students aware of its most useful services?

Armed with the knowledge that there was absolutely no way anyone else was utilizing the shuttle service, I confidently dialed 831-RIDE to request transportation. Sure enough, after spending a few minutes on hold, the person who picked up was incredibly surprised to hear from me. His panic was audible, and I sat patiently as he scrambled to secure an on-duty driver to pick me up. 

“They will be there in five minutes,” he assured me. Considering I was at Perkins, less than a block away from the UDPD headquarters, I made the bold assumption that this was true.

After fifteen minutes of standing in the cold, a medical transport pulled up to the curb. 

“Are you Wyatt?” the driver called out.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Are you sure?” he asked, visibly confused by the fact that I was a girl.

Yes, I’m a girl named Wyatt. If I had a nickel for every time I heard something like that, I could pay my own tuition. It’s 2021, everyone. Get with the program. 

He proceeded to spend a significant amount of time trying to lower the wheelchair ramp to let me in. I am not in a wheelchair. I told him that I could easily get in on the other non-wheelchair-ramp side of the van, but he insisted.

After a few more minutes, with passersby beginning to stare, I begged him to let me get in on the other side of the van. He would not relent.

While I admired his dedication, I could not help but recall the promise of the UDPD that the service would be discreet. 

Once we finally got on the road, my driver chatted with me for the duration of the trip. Normally, unanticipated human interaction makes me regret my life choices. However, he soon revealed that he was from my hometown, and we proceeded to bond for life. 

We were both born and raised in Delaware, attended UD and shared a passionate dislike of New Jersey. What more could I ask for out of a glorified Uber driver? Five stars for sure.

While not exactly ideal, I would encourage anyone thinking about utilizing this service to do so. Sure, the drivers may not arrive exactly on time, and yeah, they might make you board via a wheelchair ramp despite being an able-bodied person, but those spearheading this program genuinely care about getting students home safely.

I’d like to make it clear that it is not a requirement that you are in an unsafe situation to ask for a ride — in my case, I was just too lazy to walk. 

And who knows, perhaps you too can make friends with a retired veteran who has nothing better to do than drive students home and make fun of turnpikes. 

To utilize the safety escort program or shuttle service, call 831-RIDE or use the new service option button on the LiveSafe app.

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