City may take over Safe Ride program

Published 12:03 pm Thursday, December 3, 2015

A group of students seeing a need for safe late-night transportation for students to get back from the Square to campus came together a couple years ago to fill that need and formed Students for Safe Ride, a late-night bus service funded though donations and fundraisers created by the student committee.

The buses were rented through Cline Tours and generally ran during home football game or event weekends. It was established after the popular Rebel Ride went out of businesses.

However, the city is looking to take over the late-night ride and have it man- aged by the Oxford-University Transit system with the city, university and the Safe Ride committee to fund the route that, if passed, will run from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursdays and 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Saturdays.

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Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson told Safe Ride co-presidents Nina Brown and Natalie Truong Tuesday during the Oxford Board of Aldermen meeting that their organization won’t be running the route any longer but can still be involved with fundraisers and education.

“I’d like a $10,000 a year commitment from you,” he said at the meeting.

City leaders applauded the efforts of the student organization but some felt having it under the OUT system would allow for the route to be run more regularly with a solid financial backing.

“Maybe we can call it the ‘Safe Ride Route,’” suggested Alderman Jay Hughes, which invoked several nods from the aldermen.

The cost for the route would be about $30,000 a year and the city and university would share the cost until October.

After Oct. 1, the route, if approved, would fall under the Mississippi Department of Transportation grant given each year to run the OUT system, which pays for 80 percent of operational costs. The city and university would then split the 20 percent matching share.

A security guard will be on the late-night bus each night.

No vote or action was taken Tuesday. Carole Haney from the OUT Commission told the aldermen the OUT board supports the new route being taken on by OUT; however, she said there is some more work to be done.

“We are waiting to hear from MDOT for their approval and work out some more details,” she told the aldermen, “to make sure our policies are in place to make sure it is a safe ride for the students and our drivers.”

Patterson said the city would present a formal proposal to Safe Ride at the board’s next meeting at 5p.m.on Dec.15 at City Hall