Safe Ride is an important service for disabled students, but needs improvement to be a viable and reliable option
If you go to UNCC and have been or are currently, permanently or temporarily disabled you know about SafeRide. For those of you that don’t know, SafeRide is a service here at UNCC where a small cart that holds about 8-10 persons takes people who have temporary or permanent disabilities around campus. I am currently using SafeRide because I had reconstructive knee surgery about a week and a half ago, after I dislocated my knee getting ready for a date (it sounds strange, but that’s what happened).
I don’t know if it was over-excitement, clumsiness, or the fact that after you get out of the shower your clothes stick to you like glue, but while I was getting dressed my skirt wrapped itself around my knee. While I was trying to get it off, my kneecap dislocated. I lost my balance, fell and popped it back in place. After weeks of wearing a brace and going to physical therapy, my knee did not improve. It got to the point where I had to push in my knee just to be able to bend it. In December I got the unfortunate news that I had to have surgery.
Due to my surgery, I now have to spend 6 weeks on crutches. Due to my temporary immobility, I needed help getting around campus.
After I made up my schedule for pick up and drop off and got all the required documentation turned in, I was ready to go. Monday was my first day back after my surgery and my first time using SafeRide. It started off shaky because no one told me the pick up location from my building. I needed them to come get me from the Student Union. So, with no information to the contrary, I figured they would pick me up from the parking deck.
I stood outside my car for about 5 minutes. When no one showed up I called the dispatch number, it was busy. I then called the department head on her cell number and again, no answer. Finally when I called the office, I finally got an answer. I had to walk around the perimeter of the building to find the pick up. In pain and frustrated, I finally was able to get to class (late) and back to my car.
The next day was just as eventful. It started off with me having to walk down 6 flights of stairs in East deck 3 on crutches because of the lack of convenient parking spaces. After that the rest of the day went fairly well. I got to all my classes in good time and was able to run some important errands. The driver even changed up his route to help me run my errands. It wasn’t until my last errand that things took a turn for the worst.
I needed someone to pick me up around 5:15 and take me to Fretwell. The driver said I just had to call before or by 5 o’clock and some one would take me. So, after I completed my errand I called dispatch at 4:50 to get a pickup. They told me that they could pick me up I would just have to wait 10-15 minutes. When I went out at 5:10, no one was there. So I waited. By 5:15, no one had come, so I called dispatch again to see how far away the cart was. He told me that they can’t come get me because they stop running at 5:15 and that they already had two people to take somewhere.
Furious doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. I almost cried, I was so angry. I was told I could be picked up I just had to wait 10-15 minutes. Now I am being told I can’t be picked up, 15 minutes before my class starts. Not to mention the driver before him told me I could be picked up as long as I called prior to or at 5 o’clock. The email I received from the department said that SafeRide ran from 7:30-5:30, as did one of the drivers. I needed to be picked up at 5:15. Plus, I was going to Fretwell, which is a short distance drive because they’re able to take short cuts.
So I had to walk from the Student Union to Fretwell to get to class. To add insult to injury I passed the SafeRide cart while on my way to class. Instead of giving me a ride the driver said, “Sorry, we stop running at 5:15,” and kept going. Mind you he already had someone else in the cart. It was only two days in and I already have a bad taste in my taste about SafeRide. The only thing that makes it a little sweeter is that the driver who drove me around that day was very nice, helpful, attentive and charismatic.
In my opinion SafeRide is a good resource that is definitely needed and appreciated, but it needs some tweaking. They need to better inform the person riding where the pickup locations are at every building. They also need to communicate better with their staff and get into agreement about what time SafeRide stops. It’s confusing; “We close at 5:30” “No, we close at 5:15” “Yes, we can pick you up at 5:15” “ No, we can’t pick you up at 5:15”. It causes an inconvenience and looks unprofessional. They also need more efficient people answering the phone. No on answers when help is needed and when they do some of the people who answer don’t know what they are doing. It’s unorganized, confusing and unprofessional. It can also hurt business.