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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

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On-campus security program Cougar Ride may pause services due to low use


Cougar Ride is an security escort service available to students, which may be discontinued due to decrease of demand. | Christopher Charleston/The Cougar

Cougar Ride is an security escort service available to students, which may be discontinued due to decrease of demand. | Christopher Charleston/The Cougar

Cougar Ride, the University’s after-hours shuttle service, may cease services for the remainder of Spring 2021 due to low ridership. 

The security escort program limited their operations for Fall 2020 due to decreased demand during the pandemic.

The low usage trend has continued into the spring semester, with zero students using the service during the first six nights of operation this semester, said Neil Hart, executive director of Parking and Transportation Services.

“We will be monitoring the volume of ridership through January,” Hart said. “ If we continue to have no or very limited riders, we may have to consider discontinuing the service for the remainder of the semester.” 

Until decisions are made about a potential shutdown, the Cougar Ride program will run one shuttle Sunday through Thursday from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. The service will allow for a maximum of three riders at a time to ensure a safe social distance can be kept between passengers. But the reduced capacity could lead to delays in accessing the shuttle transport, Hart said. 

Despite a reduced number of people on campus, students remain cautious while walking on campus in the evening. 

“I think the impact of the pandemic is quite unfortunate, as some of the students on campus really depended on the service to feel safe at night,” said biotechnology senior Zachary Damiani. 

“Especially given that a significant amount of the student population is international, with no or few friends and family within the city of Houston, and this leaves them, especially females, feeling vulnerable in the dark.” 

For some students, like history junior Morgan Thomas, the lighter foot traffic has helped them to feel safer walking on campus. 

“On the one hand, the decreased campus activity has made walking from one place to another at night feel somewhat safer,” Thomas said. “On the other hand, I’m still cognizant of my surroundings since there is an inherent danger in walking outside after the sun sets.” 

Students concerned about their safety while traversing the campus can also call the UH Police Department for a security escort

 “The University of Houston has definitely taken steps to help the overall feel of safety on campus. However, there is more that can be done,”  Damiani said. 

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