Posted by Sarah Barry
Students have a wide array of opinions regarding the safety and effectiveness of the revised Free Ride Policy and the administration is in the process of assessing its effectiveness.
The Free Ride Policy with Saratoga Taxi became ineffective on Sept. 5, 2010 in favor of free rides back to campus courtesy of CDTA.
"The current plan is to assess the late night bus program in the spring semester and make a determination at that time. We will, once again, look for student input in the assessment," Dean of Student Affairs Rochelle Calhoun said.
From Sunday to Wednesday students can take a free cab back to campus as long as they are within the designated downtown areas, which Saratoga Taxi identifies as locations between Skidmore College and Crescent Street, East Ave and West Ave, the Wilton Mall, Skidmore College Boathouse and Skidmore College Stables.
From Thursday to Saturday night the CDTA bus system runs a night loop back to the college from 9 p.m. to 4:15 a.m. the next morning.
The college made the change to the bus system due to environmental and economical concerns.
"The free taxi ride program…was not supporting our efforts to be a more ‘green' campus. Additionally, the change to the late night bus saved the College approximately $20,000 annually," Calhoun said.
Despite the positive effects of the modified Free Ride Policy, many students still yearn for the old policy.
"I think that Skidmore is jeopardizing our safety to save money. Bus stops aren't always safe to wait at, especially late at night, and the route is pretty limited," Ellen Andiorio '12 said.
Other students have alternative concerns regarding student safety. "I think free cabs really cut down on student drinking and driving. I think that the school can be naïve about how prevalent drunk driving is," Kyle Perry '11 said.
Despite these concerns, some students say that it is important to have some form of free transportation, be it by taxis or the bus.
"I prefer the taxi system; I think it's easier only because there isn't a wait, but as long as there's some form of transportation I think it's fine," Lauren Parra '13 said.
The number of students using the late bus fluctuates, but oftentimes the buses transport large numbers of students back to campus.
"CDTA averages about 150 students a night, and some nights the buses carry as many as 350 students. The students are generally well behaved with no major incidents occurring between students and operators," Margo Janack from CDTA said.
Thus far neither the college nor the CTDA bus system has encountered any problems from the new late night rides. Students have utilized the system without abuse thus far.
"CDTA's decision to operate Route #473 Jefferson Street later at night in Saratoga has worked out very well so far. Skidmore students are taking advantage of the expanded service hours and are very appreciative of our service," Janack said.
The school is working to smooth out any issues with the new system and plans to gather student feedback and suggestions during the spring semester.
"I haven't had any formal feedback from students. When I check in informally, students seem to think that things are going fine. However, it will be an important part of our assessment next semester to get student feedback," Calhoun said.