ASUA Escort Service in financial struggle
The ASUA Escort Service, which has provided students with safe transportation throughout the campus area since 1983, is in the midst of financial ruin due to this semester's increased customer volume.
In a presentation to the Associated Students of the University of Arizona Senate, Escort Service Director Rachel Reinhardt explained the tremendous difficulties the service has faced throughout the first month of the school years.
"Our main focus is safety on and around the campus area," Reinhardt said. "This is being affected by the financial problems so far this semester."
According to Reinhardt, the ASUA Escort Service has transported 3,957 people in the first 25 days - an average of 158 a night.
The average last year at this time was 105 per night. This has led to a slower response time for customers.
Reinhardt attributes the increase in customer volume to the recent crimes in the campus area.
"Due to the recent wave of robberies and gun-related incidents on campus, along with the constant promotion of our service by UAPD and the Dean of Student's Office, the demand for the ASUA Escort Service has increased tremendously," she said.
The increased volume of customers has caused a need for more vehicles, Reinhardt said. She also said the current vehicles have felt the burden of overuse.
"Our vehicles have accumulated over $3,700 in maintenance cost this year, over 35 percent of our vehicle maintenance budget," Reinhardt said.
The customer capacity was greatly affected this year when the Escort Service shuttle had to be removed from usual service.
"When we used the shuttle on a daily basis, it broke down every three days," she said. "The weather and the streets cause most of the maintenance problems."
The 35-person shuttle is only used when handicap customers request it. With the vehicle out of regular service, customer capacity drops from 45 to 19 people at a time.
The Escort Service utilizes two golf carts, a minivan and up to two rental cars in order to transport customers around the campus area.
Because of budget constraints, the Escort Service can only transport students four blocks past campus boundaries. Last year, customers could expect service up to a mile from campus.
Reinhardt said that in order to raise money, the Escort Service will venture out into the private sector for additional funding.
"We are negotiating with Gateway, who may donate a couple of computers," she said. "This will increase the efficiency of our service."
The UA Parent's Association and the Residence Hall Association have also been targeted for financial support, Reinhardt said.
Reinhardt said that the Escort Service will not inquire about additional ASUA funding.
"We are not going to ask them (ASUA) for any more money. They have traditionally been very stingy when it comes to giving us funding," she said.