WKU’s Provide-A-Ride growing too large for current provider

Mike Stunson

There is an increasing need for sober transportation, and the Provide-A-Ride service may not be cutting it anymore.

Provide-A-Ride, which is operated by Franklin Taxi, is a free shuttle service students can use for a sober ride in Bowling Green from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The service is paid for by the Student Government Association and Parking and Transportation Services.

But SGA President Colton Jessie said Provide-A-Ride has simply grown to be too big for Franklin Taxi to handle and many students have had to wait hours for a ride.

“With as popular as Provide-A-Ride has become, Franklin Taxi does not have the means to handle it effectively,” Jessie said. “Our ridership has gone up so much.”

During the 2009-2010 school year, Provide-a-Ride carried 9,200 passengers with 1,772 calls for pickup over the year.

In just three and a half months last semester, Provide-A-Ride had picked up more than two-thirds the amount of passengers they did during the entire previous year. There were 6,111 passengers picked up from 1,189 calls from Aug. 31 to Nov. 13 in 2010, according to Parking and Transportation analyst Dennis Cain.

Jessie said he has met with members of PTS as well as Howard Bailey, vice president for Student Affairs, to figure out some solutions for next year to try to make it easier for the provider to pick up passengers.

“We have talked about doing a fixed route service, where the provider will pick up students at only certain places like the most popular neighborhoods and bars,” he said.

Jennifer Tougas, director of Parking and Transportation, said the fixed route service may be the most ideal solution.

“It addresses a lot of the issues we are seeing,” she said. “The service area currently is so wide that it is hard to pick up everyone.”

Jessie said there are still positives with the service.

“The heavy flow of use for Provide-A-Ride shows we have gotten the word out and plenty of people are using the service,” he said. “But unfortunately, too many are.”

Tougas said WKU is unsure which provider they will use next year, but said they will continue to use Franklin Taxi throughout the current fiscal year.

“There is a big need for sober transportation late in the evening,” she said. “We will do everything we can to provide a good service.”

Jessie said the problem will take a while to fix but anticipates having a new system in place next school year.