To ensure RamSafe is improved upon
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To whom it may concern,
My name is Sarah Brannan and I am a sophomore at VCU. I have attended this school for almost two years, my first year living on campus and my second year back at home. My study habits include late night library trips and the weekends called for a party here and there. Due to the late hours I was out and the ever changing situation before me, RamSafe seemed like the most reliable option when choosing how to get home in a city setting. When I first toured and considered VCU, one big draw was the amount of safety implements in place and how effective they are. Two years later and I am sad to report that these statements were not accurate. On multiple occasions, my friends and I have experienced first hand how poorly the RamSafe can run. I will say it can run smoothly but only at slow times, when it’s not as necessary to the student body. Even then, it can get a little bumpy. That being said, in the opinion of myself and fellow peers, it runs inadequately during the times it is most needed. These times come during late night study sessions for finals, getting across campus to get home after an evening class, and on the weekends, when students tend to go out. The demand rises and the service seems to somehow fall apart.
On January 28th of 2018, a Sunday evening, I was at a friends pretty late (close to midnight). I had to walk back to my parking deck in the 500 block of W Grace st. in the rain and alone. My phone was close to dying and I thought I would get the RamSafe and get home. Alongside that, my parking deck is on the edge of campus in a slightly sketchy area. It is directly across the street from a rehabilitation center that gives way to disconcerting characters. Being a 20 year old female, I was uncomfortable walking there myself and did not want to make a friend walk back alone either. I made the request and was queued about 12 am, waited about 18-20 min and was assigned. It stated my RamSafe was 6 minutes away, so I packed up and headed downstairs. I gave it 15 minutes before I called the RamSafe service to see where it was and she said it was on Cary St. heading towards me at that moment. Not a minute after we got off the phone, my phone did indeed die. This left me alone, on Broad street, at 12:30 in the morning with no way to get to my friends. I couldn’t say how long it was before the RamSafe arrived but when I read the clock after getting situated on the bus, it read 12:45 pm, which is almost an entire hour after I put in the initial request. The driver then tried to pick up more people and neither stops showed up, causing us to take another 20-30 minutes to get to my parking deck (note: this is not part of my complaint, just filling in the time gap). I was dropped off around 1:10am at my parking deck and arrived home at 1:30. If I had known that it would have taken that long, I would’ve rather have put myself at risk and walked since I had a class early the next morning.
This trip was not the worst I’ve experienced but it was my tipping point on how terribly this service can be and it’s inability to truly keep the student body safe. I did not write this letter, however, to just complain. As a student, I’ve come up with a short list of recommendations as to what could better the system:
Driver’s need to be vetted more in terms of behavior and treatment of students/passengers.
Technical difficulties need to be worked out BEFORE it’s released to the public.
It is understandable that it takes a while to get a service such as this well-oiled but using current VCU students as the guinea pigs is unethical.
There should be stops voted on by the student body that have a designated pick-up/drop-off location to make this process easier.
Maybe put in place a policy for picking up students who have been waiting more than 30 minutes for a RamSafe or 20 min to be assigned one. Another one in place for around the hours of 12-2am, where any student who is in any way decapacitated, unsure of where they are, or their phone died can board with a valid VCU ID.
If it is within budget, take a vote to see if another RamSafe bus is feasible to allow for more vehicles on the road and possibly less time waiting.
I truly hope these recommendations are heard and considered, as I love VCU and do want to feel safe attending.
I feel these changes will positively impact the VCU community.
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