Opinion: NYU’s Safe Ride service needs reform

The Safe Ride service is unreliable and puts students at risk. NYU needs to address student concerns if it truly wants to prioritize safety on campus.


Susan Behrends Valenzuela

Safe Ride is available for free to students. NYU has partnered with Via to provide the service, and students must enter a discount code on the Via app to enable the feature. (Staff Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

Valentina Plevisani, Contributing Writer

It’s past midnight. I’m huddled in front of Palladium and I need to get to Lipton. I can’t walk, it’s far too late, and I’m down to my last $20 before my paycheck hits in a couple days. I am in need of campus transportation that is free and safe. I open the Via app to order a Safe Ride, and surprise — it doesn’t work. This is a recurring narrative in college life for my friends and I. I only have one friend whose Via app works consistently; they’ve been designated as the Safe Ride person in our friend group. However, the wait time is 20 to 30 minutes, sometimes even more, defeating the whole purpose of efficient and safe late-night no-cost campus transport.

NYU Campus Safe Ride is a free vehicle service provided by the university from midnight to 7 a.m. by partnering with Via to, theoretically, provide safe transportation for students. Don’t get me wrong — the concept is excellent. Vans pick up students at campus buildings and take them to their destinations during nighttime hours that are not the safest times to be walking the streets.

[Read more: Safe Ride Drives Students Away With Two-Hour Waits, Failures to Arrive (2019)]

But the execution is lackluster: The app is unreliable, and when it does work, we’re left waiting for nearly half an hour. Once, I had to wait in the Palladium lobby for over 25 minutes because the Safe Ride was nowhere near me. I live on the other side of campus, and as a woman it’s impractical and scary to walk by myself all the way home.

The wait times are only part of the problem. The app has a faulty interface, and it no longer works in most of the city for unclear reasons. It usually shows an out-of-service sign when ordering a vehicle to certain NYU buildings further away from Washington Square Park. 

The fickleness of the app combined with the long wait times results in a system that does not adequately serve students who are in a pinch and need safe late-night transportation. Additionally, the NYU page on Safe Ride transportation provides little to no support when the promo code isn’t working. It’s unfeasible to wait for 20 to 30 minutes, and it’s even more unfeasible to expect students to forgo the service and take undue risks because of avoidable technical issues. 

Low-income students who have limited budgets for transportation are especially vulnerable. Paying for an Uber or Lyft isn’t a financially realistic option for many students, not to mention the many instances of unsafe rideshare experiences that can make calling a car a less-than-appealing option. 

We’re left, then, with NYU’s Safe Ride — with its long wait times driven by vehicle deficits and a barely functional app interface. To better ensure student safety, NYU should search for a better option to provide no-cost late-night safe transportation for its students.

Views expressed in the Opinion section do not necessarily reflect those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.
Contact Valentina Plevisani at [email protected].