Left on foot? 5-SURE service experiences delays, assures aims to improve student safety

Jan. 16, 2023, 11:18 p.m.

5-SURE leadership confirmed concerns that some students utilizing the free transportation service have faced longer wait times, but said the service is working to improve this quarter.

These problems have resulted from increased student demand after 5-SURE increased its operating hours during the fall quarter, staffing shortages and a vehicle’s catalytic converter thefts. In response, 5-SURE is working to hire more drivers, purchase an additional vehicle and obtain more funding to address student demand.

5-SURE, which grew out of a student effort to eliminate rape on campus over 40 years ago, now assists students, faculty and staff with transportation to and from campus locations and nearby Oak Creek Apartments. 5-SURE’s main goal is to mitigate any risks that may come with walking alone at night — from theft to harassment and everything in between. The service offers secure transportation, both by foot and by car, seven days a week from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., as well as a weekend snack station to promote safe drinking. 

But as the winter months have approached, bringing with them earlier nightfalls, some students have raised concerns that the service is taking longer to respond to a call for a ride home. 

Oriana Riley ’25, a news desk editor for The Daily, said she called 5-SURE shortly after 10 p.m. on Dec. 10 from EVGR. Riley said she hoped to use 5-SURE to avoid walking to her dorm on West Campus unaccompanied. 

Riley said 5-SURE services took an hour and twenty minutes to pick her up, with the ride itself taking only 10 minutes. Though her friends waited with her, Riley said she was frustrated by the wait time. 

When asked about whether Riley would continue using 5-SURE in the future, she said that she would, but she wished the service “was more efficient.” 

5-SURE driver Sarah Lee ’23 confirmed that wait times have increased for some students, which they attributed in part to the service’s enhanced working hours for drivers. 

The service expanded its hours of operation to start at 5 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. in early November, Lee wrote, and because of this scheduling change, wait times have been impacted. 

However, Lee added, 5-SURE is actively working to hire more drivers in order to keep up with the demand and ensure students are getting to their destinations safely. 

Joe Kaczorowski, the assistant director and program supervisor of the Office of Substance Use Programs Education and Resources (SUPER), provided deeper insight on the reasons behind 5-SURE delays and staffing shortage. 

Kaczorowski said he “gets the frustration behind it” and added that drivers have reported hearing frustrations from students as well. 

Regarding staffing shortage, Kaczorowski said that the driver numbers were tallied “based on last year’s usage, which was low coming out of the pandemic.” Kaczorowski refers to the past academic year’s increased COVID-19 restrictions that kept many students from going out often. Compared to this year, the usage numbers reflected the public health situation back then accordingly. 

When asked about University involvement in supplying 5-SURE vehicles and related funding, Kaczorowski said that 5-SURE is “working with the Provost and Vice-Provost for additional funding, and they have been working to make that happen.” As for vehicle needs, Kaczorowski explains there was a surge in “thefts of catalytic converters on campus.” One 5-SURE vehicle’s converter was stolen twice, leading the group to need to replace the vehicle. 

Kaczorowski said that 5-SURE has invested in buying a van which, alongside new hires, will debut in winter quarter to alleviate demand. 

In response to concerns about wait time, Kaczorowski said that wait times “vary depending on the time of day and week, but Friday and Saturday evenings are busiest. A call during the week can [get picked up] right away.”

Kaczorowski advised students facing long wait times to “wait when there are other people, in well lit areas, or wait inside” and to “find a space where [one feels] comfortable.” 

Lee, the driver, “understand[s] people might get frustrated” over the wait times. Lee also urged 5-SURE riders to be kind to drivers, as the service is, after all, run by students. 

Adding to this sentiment, Kaczorowski said that 5-SURE is a “student-led initiative,” where student drivers “are providing a free, incredibly useful service.” 

Although recognizing the frustration of the wait times, Kaczorowski said, “Taking out the frustration on the driver does not help the situation.”

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