The economic downturn hit close to home at the budget meeting this past week with the board of trustees. USF’s Department of Public Safety was hit hardest when the group learned that its transportation budget would be sliced in half for the upcoming school year. After hours of debate on how best to acclimate to the sudden drop in funds, it was decided that all current methods of transportation would be sold and the department would invest in a new fleet of Rascal scooters for patrolling officers.
“We examined many resources, but Rascals always seemed to come out on top. They’re electric, they’re reliable and they have a lifetime guarantee from The Scooter Store,” said Dan Lawson, Director of Public Safety.
Rascals can reach top speeds of 30 miles per hour, where Segways could barely top 20. “This added 10 miles per hour was what made the Rascals stand out from the rest,” said Lawson.
Negotiations are currently underway to sell off the remaining patrol cars and Segways to charities in Africa who are there fighting the AIDS epidemic. USF is cutting the charities a break and offering good prices for the Segways, which is apparently an excellent mode of transportation in the rural African jungle. Unlike jeeps and Landrovers, Segways are immune to sand build-up, which can reduce a car’s speed and performance. Lawson only had this to say on behalf of the group, “One word: Karma.”
While some officers are taking the transition well, others are upset by the change. “That Segway was like my partner. I put a lot of hard work into that little guy. I even fashioned a personalized horn for the handlebars,” lamented Peter Thorn, a patrol officer at USF. “I’ll never be able to call one of those maroon scooters my own. I’m ashamed to even ride one.”
While this year’s entire transportation fund has been spent on the new fleet, the Department of Public Safety already has a wish list composed for next year. Accessories such as beverage caddies, front and rear baskets, folding trays and ‘coon tails comprise the list. A veteran officer, Scott O’Neal, pointed out, “The Rascal scooters expose us to the harsh winter elements and bitter wind of San Francisco…’coon tails are a must if we don’t want our heads to freeze.”
The only problem that Public Safety can foresee with the scooters is that officers might start being confused with members of the Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning. Lawson and the rest of the department have examined this possibility, but hope that the personal ‘coon tails they’ll receive next year will negate this dilemma.
The new fleet of scooters have been ordered and are on their way, and within a week USF will be welcoming a new fleet of power chairs to its walkways.