USGD introduces Sun Devil Safety Trolley connecting ASU parking lots to Taylor Place

(Carolyn Corcoran/DD)
The Sun Devil Safety Trolley runs Monday through Thursday from 7 to 10 p.m. The trolley is an addition to ASU’s current 24-hour safety escort program and hopes to enhance safety downtown. (Carolyn Corcoran/DD)

In an effort to enhance safety around ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, the Undergraduate Student Government Downtown approved the addition of the Sun Devil Safety Trolley on Aug. 28 to remedy growing concerns about student parking safety, officials said.

USGD President Frank Smith said the trolley was an idea the student government had been discussing for a long time to combat lengthy wait times for the existing safety escort program.

“It’s to improve and to enhance safety for downtown students,” Smith said

The trolley program cost $26,000 to implement and runs from 7 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Stops are posted along Taylor Place and Fillmore Street and the trolley is in operation every 15 minutes for the three hour period.

Students who want a ride to their car parked further up the street will need to seek transport elsewhere. The safety trolley only drops off at ASU-affiliated parking lots. An ASU ID is also required for trolley riders.

Smith said hours and service areas will expand as more students use the trolley and the program gains popularity. The next step will be to market and promote the trolley.

“Our focus now is on educating students about the services available to them,” he said.

The trolley will be an addition, rather than a replacement, for the 24-hour safety escort program already in place. The service, provided by ASU police aides, will still be available on-call at (602) 965-3456.

Signs posted around campus advertised the Sun Devil trolley. One listed a phone number for anyone who needs further information on shuttle times and stops, but multiple calls to the number listed were left unanswered.

Jocelyn Henderson, an senior criminology and criminal justice student, said she was aware of the new program but unsure if she would ever use it. Like many downtown students, she opts for street parking instead of using the ASU parking garages, which cost several hundred dollars a semester.

“I don’t feel unsafe,” she said. “So I wouldn’t use it for safety reasons, just for being tired.”

In its current state, the safety trolley would not be able to serve all students. Students who use public transportation and metered parking, like Henderson, will need to utilize other campus safety programs.

ASU Police spokesman Sgt. Daniel Macias outlined other safety options available for students, like the safety escort service. Other options include the GPS tracking app LiveSafe, which allows a friend or family member to virtually “walk” home with the user. The free app also allows users to report tips to police and contact emergency services.

Blue light call boxes connect people in need to immediate police assistance should an emergency occur. In 2012, ASU Police Department reported two aggravated assaults, two forcible sexual offenses and 64 thefts.

Macias said that overall, the number of people present at night makes the campus a relatively safe place.

“There are plenty of options available,” Macias said. “Practice the buddy system. Know your surroundings.”

Above all else, he said, act if you feel unsafe and use whatever option feels comfortable. The services are in place to keep the campus safe.

Contact the reporter at wmccarth@asu.edu