ASM Express: A New Safety Initiative

Sorry for the obscene delay between postings.  I will try to post more frequently, I promise!

Anyway, with the session’s first council meeting looming above us tonight, I thought I would give a brief overview of one of the new safety initiatives that we are unrolling this year: the ASM Express.

As many know, SAFEcab funding was a subject of controversy last year because of abuse by individual students, prompting calls for a program that is there when students need it and that can be supplied at a reasonable price.

ASM Express would be a replacement for the SAFE Cab program, allowing ASM to internally fund and provide this service to students more directly than the current contract allows.  The basic premise would be that ASM would purchase or borrow from the UW several vehicles and employ students to be the drivers.  That’s the idea in a nutshell; create jobs for students on campus, operate an essential service at a more efficient level of funding, and improve campus safety.

Shared Gov Director Sam Helgeson has been spearheading this with support from Chair Kyle VandenLangenberg and myself.  The model we are using is based off a similar model used by the University of Minnesota that has been successful for a few years.  Of course, we have lots of issues to tackle (insurance, liability, risk management, purchasing, etc) but the kernal is being worked on.

What do you think?  Is this something ASM should pursue or is it trying to fix something that isn’t broken?  If ASM does this, will it count as a “win” for our safety program?

-AJ

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3 Comments on “ASM Express: A New Safety Initiative”

  1. Kurt G says:

    This is an excellent stride forward by ASM on a project that clearly exemplifies the quintessential “student service.” Also, having spent a number of years learning about and deciphering the transportation programs ASM offers, a new direct approach has great potential to be a more cost-effective option.

  2. Erik Paulson says:

    This is an interesting idea and I think it’s worth exploring, though I have doubts whether it will be possible to operate our own fleet at a sufficient size to keep service acceptable at about the same or lower cost as leveraging the existing taxi service in Madison. I understand that there are some new options by using student employees and UW Fleet vehicles, so I’m interested in seeing some numbers.

    With the existing SAFECab, has anyone ever looked at pushing some of the costs on to the users? Perhaps a SAFECab rider pays the first $3 or something else reasonably low, and the rest is subsidized, just as is the current system. This has accomplishments:
    1. It brings in a (small) revenue amount.
    2. It may discourage people from using SAFECab as one of their “free rides home”, ignoring that it’s meant for unexpected needs.

    The pros and cons are pretty easy to lay out (charging anything changes the spirit of the program, $3 may be too low and in fact encourage people to use it, ala the Freakonomics parable of the Tardy Parents at the Daycare Center) so I won’t go too much into it, just curious if it’s ever been thought about.

  3. […] else.  We will see how long it goes.For those who haven’t yet read, I am working on an alternative to the SAFE Cab system.  This short post will just serve as an update to where I am at in this […]


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