On-demand ride-sharing service to replace SafeRide shuttles in September

The Undergraduate Association announced yesterday that beginning in September an on-demand ride-sharing service will replace the nighttime SafeRide shuttles which service MIT students in Cambridge, Boston, and Somerville.

The UA met with the Parking and Transportation Office, the MIT Police, the Panhellenic Association, and the Interfraternity Council to discuss plans for the project starting last October. The on-demand service will be modeled after Harvard’s student transit system and will operate similarly to ride-pooling services like UberPool and Lyft Line using vans which can hold about 15 people.

The groups selected Modo Labs, the MIT alum-founded company which developed the MIT mobile application, to design the mobile interface for the service.

UA Vice President Daysi Gomez ’18 conceived of the idea while walking across the Harvard Bridge late one night last semester. “[Living in Boston] I’ve experienced the many struggles of the shuttle system,” Gomez said in an interview with The Tech.

The ride-sharing service will aim to solve two main problems. The first, ironically, is safety — buses like those used by SafeRide are not allowed on certain roads near many MIT living groups including tEp and Phi Kappa Theta per Boston law, so students from these living groups must walk for a long time at night to reach their homes from the bus stops. Ride pooling vehicles, on the other hand, would be allowed on the streets under such laws.

The second problem MIT and the UA hope the on-demand service will improve is the inefficiency of the current SafeRide system, which services stops at fixed locations in a fixed order and can be crowded at peak times.

The UA plans to operate the service at least as late at night as the current SafeRide, which stops at 2:30 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 3:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

The UA will begin to implement the service during the summer, waiting until after spring exams so as to not “mess up students’ lives” in case there are kinks in the rollout, Gomez said.