Temporarily or permanently disabled students may have access to a new chauffeur-style transportation service on campus as soon as this summer, thanks to $100,000 that Associated Students recently made available.
The program would provide UCSB students with disabilities with scheduled pick-up and drop-offs in a customized vehicle that would be Americans with Disabilities Act-approved and wheelchair accessible. Still in its planning stage, the program would not be offered to faculty and staff, and is slated to potentially begin with a pilot attempt this summer in the campus residence halls.
Ashley Day, special projects coordinator in the Office of the Internal Vice President, said the project is intended to maximize accessibility and resources for students with disabilities on campus.
“We’re trying to bring a service to campus that won’t be detrimental to campus,” Day said.
According to Day, Gary White, director of UCSB’s Disabled Students Program, recommended that temporarily or permanently disabled students with broken bones, illnesses or ailments that make it difficult to move around campus easily and comfortably be eligible for the service. Thus, the program aims to include students with simple athletic injuries or with lower body mobility issues or back issues.
However, there is still much to be done before the campus’ temporarily and permanently disabled students can utilize the service, Day said, and the project requires a number of items and approvals from different campus entities to move forward.
According to Chris Wendle, the internal vice president of Associated Students, the first obstacle involves acquiring approval for the use of certain currently prohibited access roads and routes on campus. The project also requires expert advice on campus transportation, particularly regarding the specifications of the vehicles and how many should be purchased.
Additionally, Wendle said, the project will need to start within the confines of UCSB and campus roads before being assessed for feasibility as a transport service between Isla Vista and campus.
“The idea of this project is that it would be a student-run thing for campus,” Wendle said. “We’re planning on keeping it on campus for liability purposes for now. We’ll need to start slow initially, figure out how this is going to function, when we can get it up and running.”
An important distinction about the transportation project, Day said, is that just students would be allowed to use the program. At first, only a small demographic of students will have access to the pilot project, which Day hopes to have started by summer session B.
“This project — and therefore the $100,000 — is not just for the residence halls,” Day said in a press release. “We will be starting the service with a pilot program that will begin focusing on the halls. Once we establish that this service is functional we will expand the program… If there is a student who does not live in the halls, but wants to participate in the pilot program then if they can get to Ocean Road or the bus loop then they could also participate.”
Once approved, Day said, the pilot program would potentially provide scheduled pick-up and drop-off transportation to an estimated 24 to 40 freshman students and should begin by Summer Session B.
Current plans are to purchase between 2 and 6 vehicles capable of transporting 6 students at a time for the pilot program, but await several stages of deliberation by A.S. and campus planners.