Expand UT Night Ride hours

Emily Harrison, Columnist

UT Night Rides is a free Lyft service provided for students from midnight to 4 a.m. This service will pick you up on campus and take you off campus. 

While this is a great resource, the hours need to be longer. The sun goes down around 8 p.m., and when Daylight Savings ends Nov. 7, it will get dark even earlier. This forces students who need to go off campus to rely on public UT shuttles, which aren’t always the safest, or to walk in the dark until midnight, when UT Night Rides become available. And unlike the UT shuttle service, UT Night Rides will not take you back to campus. 

UT Night Rides should expand their hours and services to begin at 6 p.m. and continue until sunrise, picking up and dropping off students both on and off campus.

Blanca Gamez, associate director for Parking and Transportation Services, discussed the purpose of UT Night Rides.

“UT Night Rides was started to complement other University transportation services,” Gamez said in an email. “More specifically, UT Night Rides provides transportation during some of the hours UT Shuttles do not run and to areas for which SURE Walk services do not reach.”

While UT shuttles are a helpful resource, not everyone feels safe riding them at night. UT Night Rides is a private way to commute, unlike UT shuttles, which is why students like it so much.

Electrical and computer engineering sophomore Katie Wang expressed her concern for taking the bus at night.

“I personally have never used Austin’s bus system before, so I would not feel comfortable taking it at night, if that would be my first time using it,” Wang said. ”I’ve heard in general the bus system can be kind of sketchy.”

Lyft rides need to be more convenient in times of need. Walking off campus at night is a scary experience for students, and this resource is a necessity. They need to expand their hours and add pick up locations off campus.

“There was one time I went to my friend’s apartment that’s 10 minutes (walking distance) from my dorm,” Wang said. “I took a Lyft there, but I wasn’t able to come back using the UT Night Rides system. It would have been helpful during that time.”

 Gamez said that last year due to COVID-19, the UT Night Rides program was expanded. Now, rides are available year round.

“New or expanded services are dependent on several factors, including budget and staff resources, demand, student and campus community member needs and current levels of service through other programs and resources,” Gamez said in an email. “Parking and Transportation Services is an auxiliary unit at UT-Austin, which means we are a self-supporting unit that funds itself entirely and therefore, are not supported by tuition or public funds.”

Expansion is something Night Rides has done before and can do again. UT Night Rides must find a way to make sure students feel safe at all hours of the night. 

Emily is a journalism freshman from Dallas, Texas.