A service that offers KU students free rides home from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. seven days a week began Monday.
The contract for the "Safe Ride" service was awarded to the Lawrence Bus Co., which gained approval for a city taxicab license last month.
The KU Student Senate, which sponsors Safe Ride, will pay the bus company $18.50 an hour per vehicle for services under the contract, said Fran Welch, a state contracting officer in Topeka.
Cost of the program would be about $8,800 for one vehicle running four hours a day, seven days a week, for a 17-week semester. The cost would be about $35,200 per semester if four vehicles were used.
Chris Ogle, owner and general manager of the bus company, said four cars and a van are available for use in Safe Ride. He said he would add other vehicles to the service if needed.
The program is open only to KU students, who may get a ride home from anywhere in Lawrence. Rides are free, but students must show a current, valid KU ID to drivers, Ogle said.
Chrissy Kaiser, coordinator of KU's transportation board, said Safe Ride would run throughout the school year, including the Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring break vacations.
Students may call 864-SAFE (7233) for a ride.
The program was called "Secure Cab" in previous years.
A-1 City Cab, previously the city's only taxicab service, had provided Secure Cab for the past three years.
The KU transportation board last month approved the bus company's proposal to provide taxicab services.
KU student body president Brad Garlinghouse said the student senate was seeking cheaper rates and had received complaints about A-1.
In past years, KU had paid $35,000 to $50,000 per year for student taxicab services, said David Hardy, associate director of organizations and activities and adviser to the student transportation board.