Safe Rides provides nighttime transit under new hours

Dispatch runs out of Women*s Center; call WSU-267-SAFE during operating hours

COURTESY OF RACHEL ELEANOR

Cougar Safe Rides, which offers free transportation for WSU students, faculty and staff, is starting the spring semester with new hours.

Beginning this semester, rides are available Thursdays from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. The hours of operation previously started and ended later at night, but they were changed this semester to be mindful of driver safety and schedules.
Operations Program Supervisors Alyssa Manetti and Jakob Anderson are both drivers for safe rides, and responsible for picking up anyone who calls the dispatch line during their operation hours.
The purpose of the ride service is to provide transportation to anyone at WSU who may feel they are in an unsafe situation of any kind, Manetti said.
“We can pick up anybody, whether they’re having late office hours as a professor, late study sessions or they’re even just scared or uncomfortable,” she said.
Cougar Safe Rides began in 1977 under its former name, Women’s Transit, Manetti said. The ride service changed its name in 2017.
“That way, we can pick up [passengers] of all genders,” she said.
Manetti began working for Cougar Safe Rides a year ago as a volunteer before she was hired as a program supervisor, she said.
Manetti’s favorite aspect of Cougar Safe Rides is that she can help students get home safe from the library, sporting events and other locations at night, she said.
She also enjoys giving back to WSU and the Pullman community, Manetti said.
Cougar Safe Rides limits its service to the Pullman area because its focus is on those at WSU, Anderson said.
The ride service does not make stops at commercial locations, he said.
“We’re not like a taxi service that can drive you to the store,” Anderson said. “If you’re someplace and feel like you need some help, then call us.”
Cougar Safe Rides has a dispatch service that operates out of the WSU Women*s Center in Wilson-Short 8.
“We’re [emphasizing] our focus [on] people who might be on campus and trying to get home safe,” Anderson said.
The Women*s Center also funds the ride service because it follows their Equal Rights and Opportunities policy, Manetti said.
“Anyone can volunteer with us, drive with us or even be picked up,” she said. “We are open to all genders, we are non-discriminatory and that’s why we work under the Women*s Center.”
According to their website, Cougar Safe Rides welcomes volunteer opportunities throughout the semester. The website also provides an online application.
Prospective volunteers participate in a training session held once a month, Anderson said.
In order to volunteer as drivers, students must have a valid driver’s license. However, if they do not have a license, they may still volunteer by answering the phones in the dispatch center.
Anderson started working for Cougar Safe Rides a year and a half ago as a volunteer, he said.
“At first, I just saw it as a job,” Anderson said. “Over time, I’ve really grown to realize the importance of what we’re doing here.”
Cougar Safe Rides can be reached at [email protected], or at WSU-267-SAFE during operating hours.