SG plans late-night driving service

By Becca Clemons

When the last notebook has been closed for the school day, UK students look forward to what campus and Lexington nightlife have to offer. But, an obstacle greets eager socialites on- and off-campus—a lack of safe, reliable transportation. There is hope in sight.

The UK Student Government is planning a late-night driving service aimed at providing on- and off-campus students free, safe transportation to and from downtown Lexington and UK campus locations, said Max Stefka, SG deputy chief of staff and finance and marketing senior.

Four routes will run from major off-campus housing sites in the area as well as the North and South Campus neighborhoods on UK’s campus from 9 p.m.  to 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday evening, Stefka said.

The routes will be serviced by 17-passenger cutaway vans, which are small enough to navigate neighborhood streets and turn tight corners, Stefka said. The vans will stop at each location in 20-minute intervals. The vehicles are also handicap accessible.

Currently, late-night student transportation is limited to cab services, rides from friends or on-campus only service from Parking and Transportation Services, Stefka said. He added that all but one of UK’s benchmark institutions offer a similar service, including schools like Auburn University, University of Florida and Louisiana State University.

This service will offer students many benefits including safety, SG President Ryan Smith said.

“We looked at the number of safety-related incidents on campus, such as DUI and assaults,” Smith said, “and saw this as a program that would reduce the number of those incidents because we’re offering transportation during high risk times for students at times when DUI and assaults increase dramatically.”

These numbers have been reduced at other schools with this driving program, Smith said.

The University of Kentucky Police Department reported 36 assaults, 215 counts of driving under the influence and 213 alcohol intoxication charges in 2008. Stefka said the program aims to save lives, decrease these kinds of incidents and add a friendly and convenient service all students can utilize.

“Safety is the biggest issue,” biology and pre-medicine freshman Josh Jones said.

“Some places just aren’t as well-lit as others, and I would feel a lot safer with someone driving me around.”

Jones said he currently walks everywhere but would use this service.

“[The service] can also get you better acquainted with the city of Lexington,” Jones said.

“It’s going to give students that live off campus the ability to come to campus when they normally might not,” Smith said. “It will allow students the ability to get home at night for free without having to walk home or take a cab, or get home in an unsafe environment.”

Smith said there have been incidences over the years where students have been killed or injured in similar situations, and he hopes that this program can prevent that.

Stefka said the SGA has collaborated with the UK’s administration and LexTran on the project.

“It’s been a really cool experience to see that kind of administrative support for a student-run program,” Stefka said.

LexTran provides drivers and maintenance for the program, but the SGA has complete control over the routes and stops, Smith said.

The driving service will launch Sept. 30 at 9 p.m. The SGA is working on marketing the program until then, finalizing details and getting the word out to students, Stefka said.

“We just want to serve students the best way we can,” Stefka said.