UB introduces new Safety Shuttle, not available to intoxicated students
UB says it is to ensure safety, some students disagree with decision
UB’s new Safety Shuttle, replacing Sub-Board I’s van transport, won’t transport students who appear to be intoxicated.
Instead, Parking and Transportation Services advises drivers to call University Police.
Parking and Transportation now provides the Safety Shuttle, which began on Aug. 26, through First Transit. The shuttle runs 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. every night during the fall and spring semesters. The service costs UB roughly $100,000 and is paid for through students’ parking and transportation fees. The Faculty Student Association wanted to preserve the transportation service SBI offered when it became the university’s fiscal agent so FSA asked Parking and Transportation Services to determine how to “best incorporate” it into pre-existing transportation services, according to Director of Parking and Transportation Services Chris Austin.
Parking and Transportation will be launching a reservation system through an app, similar to Uber and Lyft, on or near Oct. 1,
The Safety Shuttle, however, isn’t available to students who appear to “compromise the ability of the driver to provide safe transportation service,” according to Austin. This includes students who appear to be intoxicated. The level of intoxication will be based on drivers’ discretion.
“[The shuttle] is offered to provide safe transportation to those who have reason to be on-campus late, using the libraries, studying, working, etc.,” Austin wrote in an email. “If a student is in need of assistance, Safety Shuttle staff can and will call University Police for help.”
Some students say the shuttle is not serving an important part of the student population by not allowing intoxicated students to ride. Members of the Graduate Student Association, who were included in the beginning stages of planning the safety shuttle but weren’t allowed to continue once they filed the lawsuit against FSA, agree.
“We are not super happy the new Safety Shuttle says it won’t transport people who show signs of intoxication, because it’s an important safety issue,” GSA Vice President Connor Walters said. “Students shouldn’t be driving home or forced to pay Uber to get home safely if they’ve been out drinking.”
Austin said the rule is in place so the shuttle runs smoothly.
“The aim behind these guidelines is to make users aware that there are consequences to behaviors such as vomiting on a shuttle,” Austin said. “This disrupts the service for everyone since a shuttle would be taken out of service and likely miss other scheduled pickups.”
Riders could face a potential $100 fine for impeding the operation of the Safety Shuttle due to alcohol-related behavior, according to Austin.
Eric Weinman, chairperson of the Student Association’s Board of Directors, said he understands from UB’s perspective why the shuttle isn’t offered to intoxicated students, but said he doesn’t think it’s in the best interest of students.
“From a safety perspective, I don’t think it’s in the best interest of students to turn them away if they are intoxicated because then they either need to find an Uber, a friend, or hopefully not drive home themselves,” Weinman said.
Walters said he’s worried about the safety not only for students, but for pedestrians and other drivers.
“The intoxication is a big oversight, it’s a population they’re not serving that needs to be served for students and pedestrian safety,” Walters said. “If someone drunk drives home that’s a problem.”
Brittany Gorny is the senior news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrittanyUBSpec.