After a long night of studying in the library, SMU sophomore Katie Smith now faces the long walk alone in the dark to her dorm on the opposite side of campus. This isn’t the optimal choice, as she fears for her safety. She decides to call Giddy-Up for a ride home.
The phone rings and rings and rings until it is forwarded to Giddy-Up’s answering machine. She hangs up and calls again. Once again, the call is sent to voicemail. Defeated, Smith braves the voyage home. Walking at a brisk pace, she spots Giddy-Up golf carts. Some are empty and some are carrying two to three passengers. She even spots three guys riding another. She’s left puzzled and annoyed with the Giddy-Up service. This is a common scenario experienced by many students at SMU.
Giddy-Up is an on-campus security escort service that offers free rides to students across SMU’s campus.
Five drivers chauffeur students every evening from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., with one dispatcher who fields all of the incoming calls. On weekdays there are two daytime drivers available to help students.
“The Giddy-Up program is intended to help promote safety on campus by providing safety escorts,” Director of SMU Parking and ID Services Mark Rhodes explains. “If you are in a situation on campus where you are concerned about your personal safety or if you have a mobility issue (can’t walk due to illness or injury) the Giddy-Up service is intended for you.”
“The people on the cart are usually friendly and I feel safe on campus because I don’t have to walk alone,” SMU sophomore Ashlee Queathem said.
SMU Giddy-Up supervisor and dispatcher Romeo Hart answers all of the incoming calls while also driving a golf cart himself. With over 100 incoming calls an hour, Hart is not able to answer all of them.
“That phone is chirping all the time, all the time, all the time, all the time. [There’s] not time to return calls, [nor] time to [return] messages or anything like that,” Parking and Giddy-Up Services supervisor Richard Holloway said.
“There are only a few Giddy-Up drivers available at one time to serve [an] entire campus, and people should only request rides when they truly need them,” Rhodes said.
Students’ impatience and misuse of the service also contributes to this problem.
According to Hart, the time consumption of Giddy-Up is often overlooked.
“Some people call and not even two minutes have passed by and they say, ‘Hey, can I get a Giddy-Up? I just called for a Giddy-Up, where is it?’ And when you get there, [the student] is still not outside.”
“The most frustrating part [about my job] would be on nights where I feel like students take advantage of Giddy-Up. They want a ride from Boaz to Cox School of Business, which is like literally next to each other,” Hart said.
Many aspects of the system need to be improved, including students’ proper use of the service and a more efficient dispatch service.
A solution to the latter problem will hopefully be solved in the near future with the upcoming release of a Giddy-Up app.
“We wanted to create something to improve safety and convenience for students. This was an area where we could have an impact,” Giddy-Up app developers and SMU juniors Tom Kennedy and Patrick Leopard said. “Efficiency is what Giddy-Up lacks today, and makes it inconvenient and difficult for students to use.”
Kennedy and Leopard’s main focus has been on improving the dispatching system. The Uber-like app will feature a ride request system that will notify the student of the cart’s arrival and simplify the process as a whole.
The Giddy-Up app will be available for download this summer.