By Valerie McHugh
NUI Galway Young Fine Gael members have been lobbying for the Student’s Union to liaise with local taxi companies to create a contingency plan for students who find themselves unable to pay for a taxi home late at night.
The plan would allow a student card to be exchanged with the driver at the end of a taxi ride instead of payment, with the bill being reimbursed by the SU.
The initiative aims to reduce the number of students taking unnecessary risks by walking home alone late at night due to not having budgeted for a taxi journey home or by accidentally running out of money.
Sarah Canavan, a member of YFG in NUI Galway says, “It’s an idea we got from UL that we thought would really benefit NUIG students. It worked for them and it has been in place there for six or seven years. You hear all these horrible stories of people getting attacked on a night out, or something awful happening when someone is walking home alone. This plan aims to stop people endangering themselves by walking home alone.”
The YFG petition was welcomed by many students, receiving over 250 signatures. The petition has since been brought to the SU and a proposed plan has been established. The plan would allow the Student’s Union to pay the taxi driver for a student’s taxi trip if a student card were given to the driver.
Responsibility would remain with the student to collect their student card from the Student’s Union the next day and reimburse the Union for the taxi charge. Sarah continued to say that having this initiative in place could help students out if things do not go to plan on a night out.
“We all can overspend on a night out, or you might think you are going to split a taxi with someone and that might not happen. A lot of the time, you hear somebody saying that they didn’t have the money to get a taxi home late at night.”
The YFG and Student’s Union are continuing efforts to get the University to implement this contingency plan as soon as possible.
Canavan stated that: “No one has picked up on it yet as Covid-19 is the priority with people getting people back to college. Our hope is to have it implemented after the Christmas.
“We did want to start it this semester if we could, but with the timeframe it wasn’t possible,” Sarah finished.
Pádraic Toomey, NUI Galway’s Student’s Union President, agrees with the Safe Cab initiative but feels as though there is complications with its implementation this year. In a statement to SIN, he
commented: “We met with some of the committee over Safe Cabs a few months ago. We are happy to support any initiative to help students, but the program has a couple of issues if we were to run it.”
“The problem we have with running the program this year is that any cards collected by taxi drivers would have to quarantine for 72 hours. When they would be left in our office, they would also need another 72 hours to quarantine before a student collecting them to ensure there is every measure taken to ensure people are kept safe.
“We are happy to support them and we feel if the Student Information Desk got involved to run the initiative, it would work better. They have more capacity for storage and to manage student cards as it stands,” he concluded.