“I put in the wrong location on the app, but I’m going to the Kappa Delta house,” said a UF student entering a SNAP vehicle. “Do you know where that is?”
“I know this campus so well I could do it blindfolded,” the driver said.
Chadwick Edouard, a 22-year-old UF computer engineering senior, has worked for SNAP for three years.
He picked up the student outside Century Tower on Sunday evening. This was not his first or last ride of the evening.
“My night is just getting started,” he said.
SNAP stands for Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol and it is a free transportation service for UF students that runs at night, said shift supervisor Michael Dormeus.
Dormeus, a 21-year-old UF telecommunications senior, has been with SNAP for three years and still drives one of the vans.
SNAP has seven vans that each hold 13 passengers. The vans run seven days a week from 6:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. in the Fall and Spring semesters and from 8:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. during the Summer, Dormeus said.
“We operate on game days and even on some holidays,” Dormeus said. “If housing is open, we’re open.”
SNAP has 82 stops on the UF campus and only picks up UF students or a group with at least one student, Dormeus said.
You can order a SNAP ride through a smartphone application called TapRide or by calling a dispatch directly at 352-392-SNAP (7627), Dormeus said.
Each SNAP driver is a UF student who has a valid driver’s license, passed the training course and has a good driving record, Dormeus said.
“They do background checks every two weeks on the current drivers,” said Edouard’s SNAP co-worker on the Sunday night ride.
“What? Good thing I’ve had a clear record, but what?” Edouard said. “I didn’t realize they background checked us that often.”
Dormeus said the background checks are necessary to ensure the safety of the students.
The way the typical drive goes is easy and timely, if it’s not too busy, Dormeus said.
The rider has to order a ride by putting in the current location and requesting a desired destination. The rider meets the driver at the nearest SNAP stop and the driver will pick you up in a SNAP van, Dormeus said.
“This is pretty similar to UberPool,” Dormeus said.
He said because there are 13 seats in the van, there will be stops along the way.
“It’s not like you get in the van and go straight to where you are going, but you do get there,” Dormeus said. “And it usually doesn’t take too long.”
However, it was not always this easy.
According to its website, SNAP was founded in 1976 and was originally a subsidiary service of the UF Police Department. The SNAP employees would walk students to their destinations rather than drive them.
They eventually upgraded to vans, and, in July 2016, it officially became part of UF Transportation and Parking Services, according to the site. SNAP’s funding comes from the UF transportation access fee, which comes from student’s tuition.
There are over 30 student driver employees for SNAP just like Edouard.
Edouard said students usually works two nights a week, on average.
“It’s a good job,” Edouard said. “And it’s one of the highest paying student jobs on campus.”