Decline in Cambus Saferide usage leads to new route

University of Iowa Parking and Transportation CAMBUS made changes to the Saferide route and frequency at the beginning of the fall 2019 semester due to a significant decline in usage.


Katina Zentz

A Cambus passes by the Main Library on Thursday, September 26, 2019.

Kexin Cheng, News Reporter

The University of Iowa’s late-night weekend Cambus known as Saferide introduced a new route for the fall semester in response to a drop in student usage over the last several years. 

The Cambus system will now run the Interdorm route instead of Blue and Red Routes for the Saferide service. he frequency of Saferide will likely increase as well over the course of the fall semester, Cambus Manager Brian McClatchey said. 

Founded in 2012, SafeRide is in its seventh year at the UI and its fifth year of continual decline of student passengers. Saferide had more than 16,000 rides for the 52 nights the service operated in fiscal 2014. There were around 8,200 rides in fiscal 2019, so ridership has declined by half in the last five or so years, he said. 

“It’s obviously something very significant going on,” he said. “We just see every year, just drop, drop, drop.”

A primary cause of this decline might be the increasing popularity of apps such as Uber and Lyft, McClatchey said. Another factor could be the use of taxis and nighttime university services such as Niteride, he added.

In order to better use the resources Cambus provides and give students a more useful service in close proximity to their residence halls, McClatchey said, officials decided to change the route.

There are currently two Cambus vehicles commissioned for Saferide, and each one will run the Interdorm route. 

When each bus was running its previous route, Cambus drivers took a half hour to make a round trip. Between both buses, it will still take a half hour for the route to run. However, students will have a Saferide bus available every 15 minutes.  

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Students who live on-campus heavily use the Interdorm route, which mainly runs between residence halls, McClatchey said. 

However, some UI students suggested they are not very familiar with both the new and old Saferide routes.

“I think I’ve heard about [Saferide], though I’ve never used it before,” Rienow resident Mackenzie Steffen said. 

Steffen said she thought that Niteride and Saferide were the same thing.

“I thought [they] were the same,” agreed Trajan Wells, who previously lived in Catlett Hall.

The most significant difference between the two is that Niteride runs seven days a week and requires demand from students, while Saferide runs a specific route and operates only Friday and Saturday nights, McClatchey said. 

UI Parking and Transportation is currently accepting feedback on the new route in hopes to improve the experience for students. 

“We collect feedback from all of our riders,” said April Wells, the communications and marketing manager for UI Parking and Transportation. “They can send me feedback or [a] complaint form. We also track the comments on social media.”