However, a new year brings the program the farthest it has ever been in its development.
By the end of January or early February, KnightLynx will launch, offering free rides on Friday and Saturday nights from around 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.
“I literally think that this might change our university for the better,” said program director, Adam Brock. “Not only will it help people look for alternate solutions to going out and drinking, I think it will also help people make a much more responsible choice when they’re out at night, regardless of whatever they do.”
In older blueprints, the program was referred to as KnightDrive, but it never got off the ground because of too many liability issues.
This time around, instead of trying to develop a program like one at Texas A&M where student volunteers drive cars like a taxi service in vehicles rented by the program, UCF has partnered with Lynx, the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority.
“Once we started looking at all the details and how it would be implemented here … it didn’t transfer over well from Texas A&M to here in order for us to provide a service that would be efficient, effective and reliable,” said SGA President Michael Kilbride.
Kilbride said the difference this time is that UCF is partnering with the area’s leading expert on mass transportation.
“Their engineers have worked to help craft these ride schedules with the stops so we do it in a timely manner as well as an efficient manner,” Kilbride said. “We’re lucky to be able to partner with them to provide this service to students.”
During December 2010’s Activity and Service Fee budget meetings, the committee requested that $105,000 of the $17 million budget be allocated to the KnightLynx program.
However, Kilbride requested to delay voting on that budget line until the next fiscal year when the contract should be finalized and the program tested.
“If we show that it’s come to fruition … then we can talk about funding it for the next year rather than talking about it now while we still have got any comments back and an executed contract for this fiscal year,” Kilbride said. “This is something we consistently hear about, so I’m hoping it’s going to be successful.”
Similar programs that have been successful at other universities in the state include the University of Florida’s Later Gator and Florida State University’s Night Nole.
“[FSU and UF students] trust those programs,” said Brock. “They depend on them for any type of evening activity they partake in and I hope to bring that to UCF with this new addition of the KnightLynx program.”
Alumna Patricia Pena, who lived in Pegasus Landing all four years, didn’t have a car and disliked asking friends for rides.
“I always felt really bad asking people to go out of their way,” Pena said. “It would’ve been really helpful to have a bus that would go to the grocery store or Waterford and things like that.”
Though there was speculation during KnightDrive’s development that such a program would encourage drinking, Brock and Kilbride said there’s much more to it than that.
“This program isn’t necessarily just for people who go out to bars. These are people who want to go to movies. This program is for people who want to go get groceries,” Brock said. “It’s a multi-functioning bus service for really any student that goes to UCF.”
Kilbride said the program will be a connection to the community for UCF students, as well as a safe ride alternative late at night.
Until the budget for the fiscal year is approved in late March or early April, Brock plans to do whatever he can to get feedback from students who use the program.
“I’m going to be out there virtually every weekend trying to get feedback on this,” said Brock. “This project is my heart and soul. I haven’t stopped working on it and I’ll never stop working on it until it’s perfect.”
Source: Central Florida Future, A safe ride for late nights: KnightLynx to launch at end of month, by Katie Kustura, News Editor. Published: Sunday, January 2, 2011, updated: Sunday, January 2, 2011 18:01