Safe Ride and UTexas app’s release put on hold

Eleanor Dearman

The Safe Ride and UTexas app initiatives launched by Student Government President Kori Rady are being delayed by at least a week.

In an email to The Daily Texan on Aug. 4, Rady said both projects would be released for the first week of school, but now their release dates are uncertain. Rady said both initiatives are having problems at a contractual level. Safe Ride’s insurance is being reviewed, and the UTexas Android app’s contract is still being written.

Safe Ride is a program proposed by Rady, which will provide students transportation home after going out on the weekends. UT is partnering with uRide, a driving service for students that began in College Station, to launch the program. 

Robert Dick, CEO of uRide, said uRide’s insurance provider is talking with their underwriter to clarify specifics of the program.

“[The insurance provider] thought that they had a pretty good understanding of it, but they are basically going back with more questions,” Dick said. 

Dick said he asked Rady to push back Safe Ride’s start while the insurance issues are solved.

“I know that insurance people — they move kind of slow — and so I didn’t want to depend on them for the time of the program,” Dick said. “These things typically take a couple of days, and I wanted to make sure we had everything correct before the program started. It might be ironed out by the end of the week, but I didn’t want to take that chance.”

According to Rady, the Safe Ride program was funded by The Office of the President and will provide students another option to get to their apartments safely.

Rady said Safe Ride will service St. David’s parking lot on Eighth Street and San Jacinto Boulevard, Riverside, campus and West Campus and will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

“It’s a huge program, and we’re starting small to make sure we figure out the logistics,” Rady said.

The UTexas app, an Android version of the iOS UT app, is also running behind schedule. The app has the same design as the original iOS UTexas app but has the same functions as the updated version — including menus, schedules and maps, among other features. 

Michael Horn, director of digital strategy for University Communications, said that over the summer the University decided to buy the Android app’s code from its creators — electrical engineering senior Anurag Banerjee and computer science seniors Mark Fulbright, Max Wade and Jacob Williamson, who came up with the idea in 2012. 

“As we got close to the completion of the app itself, I started to ask around questions about intellectual property and ownership rights with our legal team and contract team,” Horn said. “They suggested that we actually go and purchase this app from our students that built this for us and have them sign a contract, so UT owns the code outright.”

Horn said the decision to buy the app eliminates the risk of the students trying to make a business out of it later and provides many other benefits to the University. According to Horn, UT legal has all the necessary information and is in the process of writing a contract.

“They’ve never done anything specifically like this before,” Horn said. “So they’re doing a lot of internal discussing to figure out the right way to word the contract, so it protects the students and protects the University both.”

Horn said the contract could be ready any day now, but the app’s release is dependent on whether the students sign the contract and how long it takes them to sign it if they do.

Rady said he anticipates the contract being signed by next week.

“I honestly think it might be done by Friday — but at the latest next Friday,” Rady said.