The Lawrence Bus Co.'s operation of Kansas University's Safe Ride taxi service appears to be running smoothly so far, the coordinator of KU's transporation board said.
"There's been a great response," said Chrissy Kaiser, coordinator of the board. "So far, from the students, we've been getting really good feedback."
The Safe Ride program, previously called "Secure Cab," offers students free rides home from anywhere in the city between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. seven days a week.
Last month, Lawrence Bus Co. took over operation of the program, which in previous years had been run by A-1 City Cab. During the summer, student leaders said they wanted to seek cheaper rates and improved service. Some students had complained about the A-1 operation.
Chris Ogle, owner and general manager of the bus company, said an average of 150 riders are using the Safe Ride program every Friday and Saturday.
On the slowest night of the week, Sunday, 15 to 25 people are using the service, he said.
Kaiser said 10,106 people used the service last year.
Using that figure, an average of 45 riders a night were using the service, based on 224 days in which school is in session.
Kaiser said a count of the total number of riders this year will be tabulated at the end of the school year to determine if ridership is up or down.
But she said students have been pleased with the new service.
"We haven't had any complaints that I'm aware of," she said.
"A lot of the drivers are (students) and I think a lot of the students really appreciate that," she said.
Ogle said he has been operating the service using 16 drivers and five vehicles. About 80 percent of the drivers are students, he said.
All five of the vehicles are used on busy Fridays and Saturdays, while only one vehicle is used on Sundays, he said.
Each vehicle gives up to 30 people a ride home each night, he said.
Kaiser said that students have had to wait no more than 15 minutes for a ride this year.
"But it's usually less than that," she said.
Ogle said that about 40 percent of riders are using the service from a location other than a bar or nightclub.
The KU student senate, which sponsors Safe Ride, is paying the bus company $18.50 an hour per vehicle for services under the contract.
Ogle said that based on the number of riders, cost to the student senate is about $1.72 a ride.
"I think it shows the efficiency of the system," he said.
Students may call 864-SAFE (7233) for a ride.