Every Friday and Saturday night, students at Springfield College get all dressed up to go out to parties to help relieve stress, meet new people, or to just have fun with their friends. The students usually do not like to travel from International to the Townhouses on foot because it is too far to walk.
Many students wait for the white van with the green flashing lights to come into the parking lot in order to bring them to their desired location. This van is known around campus as the Pride Ride, and it serves as a safe travel alternative for students to get where they need to go on nights during the week and is most noticeable on the weekends.
Last Friday night, I rode around in the Pride Ride for about an hour and a half and was pleasantly surprised by how many people actually use the service. My driver (who requested to remain anonymous) said that on Friday and Saturday nights, which are the service’s busiest nights, the Pride Ride can taxi upwards of 500 people.
These people can be ferried anywhere on campus, but that is the key – the desired location has to be on campus. The Pride Ride has a radius from the Living Center to the Senior Suites and everywhere in between, but it cannot take students off campus.
Students hail the van as though it were a normal taxi and tell the driver their desired location. My driver was very personable and asked the passengers where they were going and what their plans were for the night. The driver said that it was one of the perks of the job to meet a lot of new people, including having met a couple of good friends.
The Pride Ride’s main goal is to get the students to their location in the safest way possible. That is why the drivers must pass a defensive driving course, given by the college, in order to be a driver. The class is four hours in length and teaches the drivers different tactics that make them safer drivers.
The students who ride in the van normally know the rules associated with the service, but for those who do not know, here are some general rules: no open containers in the Pride Ride and if you can barely walk, the driver does have the authority to call in a sobriety check.
The drivers of the Pride Ride are also in constant contact with campus security. This means that if they see something suspicious, they can call to officers to come look at it.
This communication was set in place to add an extra level of security for the students. Both campus security and the drivers feel this makes for a bigger presence of public safety on a campus where questions about safety have been raised before.
As the van pulls up to the drop-off point, the students exit the van and all thank the driver, a small yet nice gesture for someone who works their weekends to make sure people get to their parties safely. As that group of students leaves, a new group piles in, and so the night continues.
The Pride Ride can only pick up students in parking lots or other “safe zones,” but usually not in the middle of the road. The van takes a route that goes from the Townhouses/Senior Suites to Abbey Circle, then to International, followed by Alumni, then finally to the Blake Hall parking lot. The drivers will drive this route every 15 minutes, so if you miss it the first time around, it will be back again.
The next time you and your friends decide you want to go out, and you do not feel like walking, don’t be afraid to wait for the recognizable white van with the green flashing lights. The driver will be more than happy to bring you where you want, as long as it remains on the Springfield College campus.
Nick Lovett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org