URI Transportation and Parking rolls out new vehicle for Rhody Safe Rides program

Service open to students, faculty and staff

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 20, 2024 – The University of Rhode Island launched its Rhody Safe Rides program in 2021 to provide students with a safe and accessible alternative to walking alone in the dark. Last month, URI Transportation and Parking introduced a new vehicle, which provides better access for those with disabilities, and more comfort and space for all riders.

Students, faculty and staff are able to schedule rides on weekdays from 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. using the TransLoc App, says Coordinator of Transportation and Parking Cody Ochs. On Saturdays and Sundays, hours of operation are 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. According to Ochs, rides must be scheduled before 12:45 a.m., sometimes earlier if there is a heavy demand for rides on certain nights.

The Safe Rides van serves all of the Kingston Campus, the Kingston Emporium and Graduate Village, and also provides rides to the nearby community, as well as to and from Kingston Station in West Kingston. 

During the fall 2021 semester, the Safe Rides program served more than 2,200 students, faculty and staff. By the end of that school year, the program served more than 3,300 riders. Since the inception of the program, demand has steadily increased, according to Ochs. 

“We’ve offered more rides in one semester than we did that entire first year,” says Ochs. “The new van was purchased to accommodate the rapid uptick in riders.

“URI Transportation and Parking is pleased to offer our campus community a new, fully accessible vehicle for Safe Rides,” Ochs says. “We know it is very important for our community members to feel safe, and this vehicle helps address that. So please, don’t hesitate to use the app if you need a ride when it gets dark.”

The new van was manufactured by TransDev, which employs all of URI’s shuttle drivers and provides vehicles to the University.

The new van can transport a total of eight students, and is equipped with a wider ramp that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The TransLoc app allows riders to schedule rides in advance, and they can sign up with their campus single sign-ons (SSO). They should also be able to flag down the Safe Rides van if they see one one approaching. For updates regarding hours of operation, students are encouraged to check out Rhody Safe Ride’s website and social media.

Ochs was asked, “Hey, can I get a ride to Insomnia Cookies? Her answer: “Yes, of course.”

STEPPING OUT: First-year student Sarah Karim, an environmental and natural resource economics major, steps out of the new Rhody Safe Rides van. URI photo by Nora Lewis.

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This story was written by Samantha Melia, a senior journalism and political science major at the University of Rhode Island and an intern in the Department of Marketing and Communications.