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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Funding for SAFEride cab to affect UW

Although they may not have agreed on the route, the Associated Students of Madison and University of Wisconsin Transportation Services both said they respectively arrived at the right destination with SAFEride cab's funding cut last week.

In a process that began Oct. 13 when the Student Services Finance Committee decided to half-fund SAFEwalk, the university and ASM have been at odds over how to fund the three campus-security programs provided by SAFE Nighttime Services — SAFEride cab, SAFEwalk, and SAFE bus.

The main point of contention stemmed from a fundamental disagreement over what program was the most valuable to students on campus.

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Throughout their discussion on the SAFE budget proposal, SSFC representatives stated the SAFEcab should be the primary recipient of funding since they believe the program can serve more students than SAFEwalk.

"[SAFEcab] provides service to students who can't use the walk or the bus," Zach Frey, who sits on both SSFC and ASM Student council, said, citing the fact SAFEwalk only provides service within a two-mile radius around Bascom Hall.

"There are students who live or go out east of the Capitol or on the far west side who still need safety services," he added.

UWTS, however, seeing SAFEcab as a student-abused "service of convenience," thought SAFEwalk should continue to be funded in full. Administrators there believe the program best served "on-campus safety."

"From transportation services' standpoint, we're trying to increase access to university resources," UWTS Transportation Administrator Gordon Graham said in a phone interview last week. "The cab program is unusual because it is off-campus, sometimes two to five miles off campus."

Currently, there is no funding or administrative support for a SAFEride cab program for the next fiscal year. However, UWTS already has plans to initiate their own cab services in the future. ASM committee members have yet to decide if they will fund their own service.

Ultimately, Graham said the university hoped to eventually cut its share of the funding and administrative support for the SAFEride cab program completely and focus its attention on SAFEwalk and SAFEbus.

UWTS informed ASM representatives of their plans in a letter addressed to SSFC Oct. 13 and during a closed meeting Nov. 16.

ASM members, though, said they interpreted the university's actions as an "intimidation" tactic from the beginning.

In response, members decided to discontinue funding for a program they believed the university had no intention of supporting in the future.

"We made the cut because university transportation services said they weren't planning on supporting it anyway," Frey said. "So, we thought it would be better to reallocate the money than to have it sit in reserves."

Instead, ASM members discussed trying to start up their own, student-run cab program, which would provide similar services as SAFEcab.

Frey said one of the reasons ASM cut funding for SAFEcab completely was to use the segregated-fee money that would have gone to SAFEcab and direct it toward its own cab program.

UWTS also has its own plans for a future cab program.

Describing it as a "nationwide cab service," Graham said UWTS hopes to create a system next year where students can use university-issued debit cards for cab rides anywhere in the country.

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