NIU’s Late Night Ride Service abused by students, DeKalb residents

NIU’s Late Night Ride Service is a glorified taxi.

Nobody in charge of the service wants you to think so, but it is. That’s what it has become.

According to an article in Friday’s Northern Star, 992 rides were given by LNRS between the dates of Nov. 6 to Nov. 11. Of those 992, 54 rides were to restaurants and bars and 175 rides were to shopping destinations. Two were to the Elburn Train Station.

Simply put, this is ridiculous.

According to that article, “The service extended its hours…on Oct. 26 to accommodate students’ safety concerns after the disappearance of NIU student Antinette ‘Toni’ Keller.”

True, this was a smart and necessary change. In the days after Keller’s disappearance, the community was scared and worried. Nobody knew what had happened and tensions were high.

What we see in this five-day period, however, is that this service is being abused. What was once a tool for student safety has become a tool of convenience for whoever has the number and time to wait for the shuttle. And if it’s happening this much during these five days, it’s a safe bet that it’s standard practice.

The Late Night Ride Service should be a resource for students (and even residents) who need a ride home late at night; to put it another way, a “drunk bus.”

Someone stuck at a party, a little too drunk to drive; a student too worried to walk home from class or the library at night. Situations like this are what LNRS should be used for; however, it’s being horribly abused.

What reason does LNRS have to take someone to Lundeen’s or Walmart? Doesn’t this seem like a misuse of university resources?

Well, LNRS doesn’t ask questions – so not even the drivers know what the reasons are.

Here’s what we do know. Non-NIU students appear to be getting rides to go to work, or to go shopping, and you, as tuition and fee-paying NIU students, will pick up the tab in the end. You’ll also be picking up the bill for your friends who call the LNRS service ahead of time, just so they can get to that house party.

LNRS needs limits. The LNRS should, if nothing else, check to see if the rider is a student. After that, the student should be taken home. Period. Not to Target or Burger King.

And why, now, does the service need to be running “nonstop,” as University Police Sgt. Alan Smith put it? Why even the use for extended hours? The service should return to its normal hours of operation, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. (otherwise known as “late at night”).

There is absolutely no reason the LNRS should agree to shuttle a student to Elburn. There is no reason the LNRS should be shuttling people to an illegal party in a defunct bar. There is no reason the LNRS should be taking people to stops that the Huskie Bus Line services while the line is in operation.

Suppose that, sometime during the LNRS’ ride out to Elburn, a student who has a serious need for a ride – perhaps a young person at a party full of people they do not know, who has had a few too many to drink – is forced to go without?

This is, of course, not to mention possible liability NIU might face if, say, the LNRS transported an underage student to an illegal party and that student ended up being assaulted or arrested. Would the university not be partially responsible for transporting that student to the illegal party to begin with?

We don’t mean to sound ungrateful – the fact that we have a service like this at all is something to be grateful for. That doesn’t mean, however, that it should be used with abandon or abuses should be ignored.