After months of planning, the long-awaited Ibis Ride to Coconut Grove on Thursday nights will be launched as a pilot run for the spring semester.
Ibis Ride is UM’s safe ride program and currently runs on Friday and Saturday nights. It is intended to reduce alcohol-related accidents by providing sober transportation. The Thursday shuttle service is scheduled to begin on Feb. 5 and will run from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Student Government [SG] President Scott Sadowski does not take credit for the idea. The idea stemmed from surveys given to students about their use of the Ibis Ride and requests made by students during last year’s SG elections.
Dr. Patricia Whitely, vice president for student affairs, says the idea was approved by President Shalala last August. SG, the Dean of Students Office and PIER 21-Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education have been working together to launch the extension.
The new service will increase the cost of the Ibis Ride by 50 percent, requiring $15,000 in additional fees. SG petitioned the Student Activity Fee Allocation Committee [SAFAC] to provide supplemental funding. A $10,000 donation from Gold Coast Beverage Distributors and the Miller Brewing Company last year helped to alleviate the cost.
The press release from Gold Coast Beverage Distributors states that the company “accepts its role in promoting alcohol responsibility and in giving back to South Florida’s communities.”
According to William Sandler, Jr., dean of students and director for the PIER 21 program, the expansion provides a safe alternative to drunk driving.
“We feel the shuttle serves to prevent and reduce alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents,” Sandler said.
Sadowski said the ride is not to promote going out or drinking, but it is a matter of convenience.
“We most importantly addressed the need to provide students with safe transportation to help them go to where they have been going all year,” Sadowski said.
Freshman Eric Halper drives to the Grove with his friends frequently but says he never considered catching a free ride.
“I have never really thought about it,” Halper said. “Now that I do know about it I’ll probably use it. The rides save people money and helps for a safe drive.”
“It’s good for students on campus who don’t have a car,” Tara Gregorio, junior, said. “They will save the money that they use to take a cab.”
The pilot run will evaluate how many students use the service and whether they will respect the Ibis Ride workers as they have in the past.
“We are providing it so that students will not have to drive to go to the Grove,” Whitely said. “We expect students to [use] the Ibis Ride responsibly so that we can provide a safe ride.”
Marquita Bell can be contacted at email@example.com.