The Daily Gamecock

Carolina Cab down for weeks

SG's free service stopped by bureaucratic hurdles

The wheels on the bus may go round and round, but the wheels of Carolina Cab, Student Government’s free transportation service from Five Points, have stopped — at least for a while.

The cab service, rolled out with extensive promotional materials and a Greene Street ribbon cutting last fall, likely won’t operate until the end of September. SG and university officials say the lapse in service is a product of state bureaucracy and needed caution.

SG piloted the cab service — which took students home anywhere within five miles of Five Points — to replace the much-maligned Cocky’s Caravan, discontinued after low ridership plagued the bus for years. The university didn’t sign a finite contract with Checker Yellow Cab, which supplied the service for about $250 a night, during its few weeks of operation last spring.

It wanted to first ensure the cabs were safe, the students were happy and the system worked.

And work it did. The service — and wait times for the free cabs — boomed, and SG officials realized they’d hit the jackpot.

But now, there’s a problem. SG wants a long-term contract with a local company so the service can continue indefinitely.

Long-term contracts equal bureaucracy. And in its true form, bureaucracy takes time.

Student Body President Joe Wright said SG officials started working to ensure the cab service would continue in early May. SG wrote several drafts of a prospective long-term plan. USC will take bids for the service beginning Aug. 31, and a winner should be announced by Sept. 26, said Theresa Sexton, USC’s coordinator for SG.

Sexton said service could then begin immediately.

“This is a huge project, and we had a huge and positive response from students,” Wright said. “We want to make sure we’re giving a fiscally responsible approach to how their money is being spent and don’t want another Cocky’s Caravan.”

Could SG have started the process earlier, though, and ensured the cab didn’t stop? Why did SG wait until May?

“There’s always room for improvement,” Wright said. “We wanted to be diligent and make sure we had done the research.”