By Mohammad Nofal
I have a chauffeur. My chauffeur’s hair changes color every night. At approximately 12:00 am, to my sore and tired eyes, it appears to be blonde, brown, or sometimes it is as grey as a rain cloud.
Actually, this hair belongs to the several people who take me home nearly every night. More specifically, I am referring to the bus drivers of the “SafeRides” program at UIUC. The SafeRides program offers university students rides home late at night, be it after a long night of partying or a strenuous night of studying at the library. Of course, it is strange for me to refer to the bus drivers of the SafeRides program by the color of their hair. But when they pick me up, I usually sit in front of the bus in the seat immediately behind theirs, so their number one distinguishing feature just happens to be their hair. But, since I have been taking SafeRides more frequently lately, I have come to know more about the drivers than just the color of their hair. Here is what I have been able to gather about the bus drivers so far: very few people know their true names, the blonde driver usually works on weekends, and the driver with the grey hair is hilarious.
As I mentioned, SafeRides is a nightly bus service for university students. Each bus is like a miniature version of the MTD buses that you see (or will see) around campus. To have a bus driver meet you at a designated location, simply call SafeRides at 217-265-7433, and this number can be found at the back of your iCard. When calling to request a pickup, I found that it is helpful to first tell the speaker that you are requesting a SafeRides pickup, and then they will immediately request your location, number of students riding with you (in case you want to ride SafeRides along with your friends), and, finally, your destination.
Granted, SafeRides will not be able to take you everywhere you wish to go at any time, because sometimes if you are near an MTD bus stop it would be more convenient for you and for the SafeRides bus drivers if you took the regularly scheduled MTD buses instead. As an example, I live at a location where the regularly scheduled MTD buses pass by until 11:30 pm each night. So if I were to request a SafeRides pickup before 11:30, I would probably be asked to take the regularly scheduled MTD bus instead. Of course, SafeRides will be happy to take me home anytime after 11:30 pm.
So the bus drivers of the SafeRides program are practically my chauffeurs. They can be your chauffeurs too. Just call SafeRides whenever you need a pickup late at night.
To learn more about SafeRides & the area it serves, visit the CUMTD website and look for the SafeRides route!