IU Safety Escort offers new mobile app

Feb. 5, 2015

IU Safety Escort is hoping to streamline its service by switching to a mobile app-based system.

IU Safety Escort, developed in 1981 and run by IU students who report to IU Motor Pool, provides rides to IU Bloomington students and employees who do not wish to walk alone at night.

In 2014, IU Safety Escort provided 11,720 rides to 1,661 people. Riders can use the service two times per day.

safety app

Some riders can now log in with a university network ID and passphrase and enter a desired pickup location and destination. | PHOTO BY CHAZ MOTTINGER, IU COMMUNICATIONS

“While there are a number of transportation options for students at IU during the day, many of these decrease in frequency significantly as midnight approaches,” said Austin Fair, director of IU Safety Escort. “Taxis and other ridesharing options are available, but many students cannot afford to pay for these services each night or have legitimate safety concerns. Safety Escort provides riders with the peace of mind of a no-questions-asked, university-sanctioned service at times when other options are not available.”

Before IU Safety Escort invested in the TapRide app, riders would call the Safety Escort phone number and speak to a dispatcher who took their information, connected them with a van driver and determined an estimated pickup time. 

That process, according to IU Motor Pool manager Amanda Wilson, could take five to 10 minutes per caller, not including the time spent on hold waiting for the dispatcher to finish with other callers. 

With the new TapRide app, a rider can now log in with his or her university network ID and passphrase and enter a desired pickup location and destination. The information is sent directly to the van driver via an iPad in each vehicle. The driver then responds with a confirmation that the ride has been scheduled and provides an estimated pickup time. 

When the van is at the arranged pickup location, the driver can send a notification to the rider’s mobile device to let him or her know that the ride has arrived. The rider can then see the location of the van on a map to know exactly where to meet the van.

“The use of TapRide should streamline the ride request procedure by eliminating time spent on hold waiting for a dispatcher or trying to determine the location of a rider,” Wilson said. “The hope is that it will increase efficiency within the service for the riders and staff significantly.”

TapRide is currently only available for Android and iPhone users and can be downloaded through PlayStore for Android devices and the App Store for Apple devices. 

Riders without an Android or iPhone can call 812-855-7233.

Rides are free. Hours are 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week through the winter and spring semesters. During the summer, hours are 8 p.m. to 11:45 p.m., seven days a week. 

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