Seattle University’s Department of Public Safety will soon be launching TapRide, a smartphone app that will improve and expand upon the services provided by Night Hawk, a student shuttle service for Seattle U students and staff members that provides transportation to and from campus during the evening hours.
KYLE KOTANI • THE SPECTATOR
Seattle U Public Safety and the Nighthawk service has faced criticism for not accomodating student needs.
TapRide was developed to facilitate the process of requesting a Night Hawk and addresses some of the limitations of the current model which depends on over-the-phone dispatching.
“We’re hoping that it will be much more efficient, that it will be more predictable for our students,” said Craig Birklid, Executive Director of Public Safety.
Birklid explained that TapRide resulted from a desire to update campus transportation with greater ease of access as well as more open information for students.
He alluded to popular transportation apps like Uber and Lyft as the inspiration for many of Tapride’s features, which emulate the experience provided by these services. One of the app’s most prevalent functions, designed to address a very common problem that Night Hawk users face, is a student’s ability to track drivers and be able to estimate their time of arrival.
Students requesting a ride will see their driver in real time through the use of Google Maps and receive a notification when the driver has reached their location. Tapride users will also be able to see their position in a queue next to others that are requesting a Night Hawk, providing them with a better sense of the Nighthawk’s estimated time of arrival.
Another benefit of Tapride is the way in which it will simplify communication between students and the Night Hawk staff. With the app in place, students will no longer have to give their contact information every time they request a ride and dispatchers will no longer need to call students back when a driver has departed.
These changes will keep both parties better informed, while also simplifying the current process.
Public Safety has also made efforts to make changes within the service itself with the addition of a new vehicle to the Night Hawk fleet that complies with the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Now, students that use a wheelchair will be able to make use of the Night Hawk as well.
One of the most noteworthy changes to the Night Hawk service is the expansion of range. In addition to its traditional six block radius surrounding campus, Night Hawk has expanded east by adding a pickup and drop-off point at the Safeway on 22nd Street and East Madison Avenue. The stop is meant to be a safe location from which to access the service, centrally located in the midst of a large residential area where many Seattle U students have off-campus apartments. “I think that the expanded radius of the Night Hawk is extremely beneficial for students who live off campus,” said Ariana Barré, a sophomore biochemistry major living near the new stop. “Off-campus housing is especially expensive close to campus, so the Night Hawk reaching farther is a safe way for students to get home at night.”
This addition of pickup points was largely brought about in dialogue between Public Safety and Seattle U’s Student Government.
Junior Representative Jorge Laborico explained that the intent behind this expansion was to assist students that commute in their ability to return to their homes.
“As sophomore rep last year and junior rep this year, what I heard from a lot of constituents is that they get they were not getting the proper resources for off campus transitions and commuter accessibility,” Laborico said. “This would help students who had to move further east over the hill in order to bring their rent costs down.”
Tapride is currently undergoing tests to ensure the app is free of bugs and performance issues and will see a brief trial period with student volunteers before its official launch.
Once this stage is complete, the app will be made available to the public, with dispatcher support still available to students that do not download it or do not use a smartphone. Tapride will be released on both IOS and Android phones, free to download on their respective online app stores.
Carlos may be reached at