Late Night Ride is not a Taxi Service


The Late Night Ride service, though a useful system, needs to see tighter restrictions when considering its use.

By The Editorial Board

At a certain point, you have to ask “How much is too much?”

Currently, NIU’s Late Night Ride Service – by the admission of the NIU PD – will pick up almost any DeKalb resident, regardless of their status as a student.

They will do this anytime and take them just about anywhere, no questions asked, free of charge. People have taken the LNRS to parties, to grocery stores and even as far as the Elburn shuttle.

This has got to stop. This is ridiculous.

A number of four-year public Illinois universities have a service similar to the LNRS, but NIU’s is the only that has literally no restrictions on who it will pick up or where it will go.

NIU PD officials have said that this is to keep us safe and that NIU and DeKalb are essentially one community. While we can’t deny that the NIU and DeKalb communities are intertwined, that doesn’t mean non-student residents should get a free taxi service out of the deal – and at some point, we have to be honest with ourselves and admit that that’s exactly what Late Night Ride has become.

Granted, this isn’t to say that we aren’t grateful that LNRS exists. We just think it needs to change. We’ve come up with a few ideas on how to do that:


The fact of the matter is that Late Night Ride is paid for, if only in part, by student tuition, according to Eddie Williams, executive vice president of finance and facilities and chief of operations. What each and every NIU student is doing, in essence, is paying for the right the entire population of DeKalb to use the service.That is blatantly unfair to all tuition-paying students. Taking tuition out of the equation still doesn’t solve the problem in principle – the rest of the cost is paid for by “generated income.”

Certainly, given the financial crisis the university is in at the moment, some of that money could be better used elsewhere.


The LNRS currently has no boundaries. Tesidents can take the shuttles just about anywhere, even as far as Elburn (roughly 20 miles from NIU). This is unsustainable for a number of reasons; most importantly in the sense that gas is quickly approaching $5-a-gallon. Do we have the money to pay for the gas it takes a very large van to drive back and forth to Elburn to pick up a single student a few times a month?

Oh, and don’t stop at locations that are along Huskie Bus routes. That’s just redundant.


This cannot be overstated. If the LNRS’ stated goal is safety, then it should be used to safely transport students home and, if necessary, to buildings on the DeKalb campus. It’s not the responsibility of NIU to ensure that people make it to an illegal party safely; nor is it the responsibility of NIU to get people to and from Walmart safely.

If a student is worried about walking home late at night or is too drunk to drive, that’s one thing. But they should NOT be taken to a party or a liquor store. They should be taken home.

Of course, some people need to study late or even have on-campus jobs that necessitate getting to and from on-campus buildings at night


We, frankly, don’t care if a student is dissuaded from using the LNRS if they have to show identification. Drivers don’t have to ask questions as to why a student is coming from a particular place or why they need a ride, but they SHOULD be checking to see that they are actually students (or faculty or staff).

When someone calls for a ride, they should be required to check their Z-ID or A-ID. Upon pickup, they should have to provide some kind of identification, whether that be a valid OneCard or state ID.


When a student isn’t taking a class, they are not a student. Therefore, when the LNRS operates during breaks from class, it exists for the sole purpose of DeKalb residents.

Granted, the service is reverting back to its original hours soon (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.), which we think is a step in the right direction (there’s no reason a “Late Night Ride” should be running nearly 24-hours a day).

And don’t get us wrong – we certainly appreciate that we, as students, have a service that we can call upon in the event that we find ourselves stranded at a party, perhaps a little too intoxicated to drive.

But it is not NIU’s responsibility to provide us with an avenue to get to the party safely in the first place. It is also not NIU’s responsibility to provide us with a way to do our shopping or to grab a bite to eat.

The Late Night Ride Service should be a last resort to get students home safely – not a glorified taxi service.

And, frankly, that’s what it is. That has to change.