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Staying safe while traveling between campuses

Students and public transportation spokespeople weigh in on how students can be vigilant when traveling

People watch as the light rail pulls into a stop at Washington Street and Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016.
People watch as the light rail pulls into a stop at Washington Street and Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016.

Traveling between classes on different campuses is not an uncommon task for ASU students and, even though it can sometimes pose safety concerns, there are safe options for students.

Shereen Shaw, the communications specialist for parking and transit services at ASU, said the University shuttle system transports approximately 5,000 passengers a day.

Kaitlyn Swift, a sophomore public policy student, is one of the students who use the shuttle daily.

“I prefer the shuttle simply because it is so convenient,” she said. “It’s a short walk from where I live, and I don’t have to stress out about finding parking or my meter running out.”

Swift said the drivers are punctual and seem to drive safely, so taking the shuttle is a great option for her.

Although Swift said she makes sure she stays around other students and doesn’t walk alone at night, she has never felt unsafe on a shuttle.

“They pick up and drop off in well-lit areas, and the drivers often get up and walk around,” she said.

Some students carry pepper spray to feel safer, but Rebecca Garcia, an ASU police crime prevention officer, said the use of pepper spray is strongly discouraged because the shuttle is such a small space, but there are other ways to be safe.

“Stay alert and aware of your surroundings, use your voice in order to alert others, call 911 and tell them you’re on an ASU shuttle,” she said. “Use The LiveSafe app to call ASUPD directly. Using the LiveSafe app, you can even anonymously text ASUPD and include a picture or video.”

The LiveSafe app allows its users to send real-time, anonymous tips to ASU police and gives students direct access to ASU police dispatch and 911 emergency services.

Another popular form of transportation for students is the Valley Metro, which averages 47,000 weekday riders, according to Corinne Holliday, a Valley Metro public information specialist. 

“Valley Metro is committed to making everyone’s transit experience a safe one,” she said. “Stations and trains have fare inspectors (or) security officers working in teams of two and are constantly roaming in designated areas along the 26 miles of light rail.”

Holliday also said the Valley Metro partners with police departments in the cities of Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa to provide extra security and enforcement, and that the security presence is increased during special events like ASU football games.

“Providing a safe, secure and reliable transit service is a top priority,” she said. 

Holliday said that riders can utilize one of the six call buttons inside each train to notify an operator, or use a call box at the stations if they have any safety concerns.

Holliday also said pepper spray and tasers are allowed on the light rail, but they must be kept in a secure holster.

Chauncey Beck, a senior communications student, said she uses the Valley Metro because it is a lot cheaper than paying for parking downtown.

Beck said the only times she has ever felt unsafe while on the Valley Metro were when she would have to travel to Tempe after her night class at the downtown Phoenix campus.

“I didn’t feel threatened, but I was uneasy due to the amount of individuals who seemed intoxicated and the lack of visible security,” she said. 

Beck said when she uses public transportation she stays safe by carrying mace and being vigilant of the people around her.

Beck also said she makes sure her music is at a low volume and makes sure she has her phone charged in case something were to happen.

“Carry mace, don’t sleep, and always be aware of your surroundings,” she said. 

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