New system minimizes wait time, maximizes efficiency
Northern Illinois University recently enhanced its Late Night Ride Service, modifying its service area and protocols to maximize efficiency with the goal of delivering better service and achieving better overall customer satisfaction.
A key element of the service change is defining its service area as two zones. During normal hours of operation, rides beginning and ending within the ‘Green Zone’ are provided to any requestor with no questions asked. Rides starting or ending in the ‘Red Zone’ are available to current NIU students, faculty and staff Sunday-Wednesday, 12:00 a.m. – 5:30 a.m., and Thursday-Saturday, 3:00 a.m. – 5:30 a.m.
Travel into or out of the ‘Red Zone’ requires that students provide Z-ID at time of ride request and an NIU OneCard at time of pickup. Faculty and staff must provide their full name at time of ride request and NIU OneCard at time of pickup. Rides that start in the ‘Red Zone’ must end in the Green Zone, and rides that end in the ‘Red Zone’ must have started in the Green Zone.
The geographical boundaries for the ‘Green Zone’ are Dresser Road to the North, Taylor Street including Schnuck’s Grocery Store to the South, Fourth Street north to Hillcrest, Hillcrest west to 1st street, north to Dresser Road (East), and President’s Boulevard to the West. The geographical boundaries for the ‘Red Zone’ are from Peace Road to Annie Glidden Road, including the Quail Run subdivision, between Interstate 88 and Bethany Road.
Originally started by students in the 1980s, NIU’s Late Night Ride Service provides free, door to door rides to NIU students on a daily basis from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. The service, which is now operated by the Department of Police and Public Safety, operates five vans driven by members of its Security Guard Division seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“Our most common pickups are in the Greek Row area, near Ridge and Edgebrook, the 1000 block of Lincoln Highway and the residence halls,” says Sgt. Alan Smith, public information officer for the NIU Department of Police and Public Safety, noting that customers may request a ride to only one destination per call.
During an average weekend night, a driver might pick up 50 or more riders during an eight hour shift. By staffing the Late Night Ride service with members of its security guard division, NIU Police has the flexibility to utilize the vehicles and drivers to provide additional patrols in on-campus and adjacent areas during “down times.” Late Night Ride drivers may also conduct identification procedures with individuals that appear to be under the age of 17 after curfew.
“The Late Night Ride service is an important mechanism in maintaining a safe and secure environment for our students, faculty and staff,” continues Smith. “Not only are we providing a valuable transportation service for the university population, we are adding another layer of security—another set of eyes in the community during the late night hours.”
The Late Night Ride Service can be requested by calling 815-753-2222 and providing a pickup location, destination, number of riders, first name, a call-back number for use in case of delays, and any special needs that the staff should be made aware of.
Northern Illinois University is recognizing Crime Prevention Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Fire Prevention Week during October. All month long, the university will promote awareness of the safety programs it has in place as well as offer safety tips for the university community.