The Safe Rides service has been used twice as much since the abduction of a Central Michigan University student outside of the Student Activity Center two weeks ago.
On Jan. 16, a Grand Rapids senior was abducted in her own vehicle around 9:30 p.m. and forced to drive to a South Crawford Road residence where she was bound with tape and raped by Eric Lee Ramsey, 30, who was later fatally shot following pursuit of the Michigan State Police in Gaylord.
CMU Police Chief Bill Yeagley said the number of students using Safe Rides has almost doubled since the abduction, which is a good sign that people are being transported safely.
“(Safe Rides) provides another opportunity for our campus community to be safe and is designed for individuals to not have to walk across campus in any danger,” he said.
Yeagley learned of the increase in Safe Rides because the usage is tracked by campus police.
Yeagley said students who are alone are given a priority in being picked up over those in groups, because they do not have a lot of people around.
“Some folks use (the service) for convenience simply because they want a ride,” Yeagley said. “And I’m OK with that.”
Despite the increase in Safe Rides, most taxi companies around Mount Pleasant have either seen similar business or have had ridership decrease.
Roger Woodard, office manager for Chippewa Cab, said regardless of what has happened, the winter season is always the busiest.
“We are staying about the same on the weekends,” Woodard said. “When the weather is bad, we are going to be busier because people don’t want to walk.”
Additionally, a common issue cab companies face year-round, regardless of ridership numbers, is riders not paying cab fare.
“We try to get people to pay up front,” Woodard said. “But, when a lot of people pile into the back, it is hard to see who has paid and who hasn’t.”
Edward Ball, owner of Mount Pleasant Cab, has accumulated 16 years of experience and uses a method in his cabs to ensure users pay.
“We are the only company that has the passenger go out through the front passenger door,” Ball said.
The location of the door makes the passenger have to at least walk by the driver before getting out.