- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 11 November 2015
- Written by JAMILAH MCMILLAN | ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR
Free taxi rides are available for local young adults ages 18-27 through the use of the D Squared mobile app. Launched in 2014, the app aims at providing safe driving alternatives for youth in the Jersey Shore community.
D Squared is a non-profit organization that was founded in March 2014 by Stephan and Karen Dushnick. Through the D Squared app, 18-27 year olds can receive rides home at no cost. Drivers are available between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. Currently D Squared will pickup and transport riders to locations between Asbury Park and Point Pleasant. Eligible users are allowed a maximum of two free rides per month, and the service can only be used for at home drop off.
In 2013, a sudden tragedy became the catalyst that eventually spurred Paul and Karen Dushnick into creating D Squared. Their two sons, Michael Dushnick, 22, and Stephan Dushnick, 24, died in a vehicular accident yards away from their home. One year after their deaths Paul and Karen Dushnick sought to spare other families from similar atrocities through the foundation of D Squared.
“The mission of D Squared is simply to bring youth home safely. Too often, we read of senseless tragedies involving vehicles and young people. At the Jersey Shore where public transportation is not easily accessible, D Squared provides young adults with an alternative option,” said Karen Dushnick.
For junior history student, Tedi Pascarella, the app is a useful tool for ensuring one’s protection. “College students especially find themselves in situations where their own safety is compromised, so the idea of having a driving service available when students have no better options could save lives,” she said.
D Squared is available for download in both iOs and Android application stores. When a rider uses the app they are given a confirmation number, as well as a vehicle number. Once a ride is requested the app provides users with an estimated pickup arrival time. Ride requests can be made by way of the app or by calling the D Squared toll-free number: 732-223-4663.
Chief McElrath of the Monmouth University Police Department, recognizes that the university has similar driving alternatives for students such as the HERO Campaign, a program that promotes the use of designated drivers. However, he affirms that D Squared is a useful resource that will decrease the risks involved with driving under the influence.
“I would support anything that would encourage students to not drink and drive. The physical risks to themselves and others are too great, as well as the risk of being arrested and losing your license, and the great impact that would have on someone,” said McElrath. “I would hope that anyone who has had too much to drink would use any resource other than driving while intoxicated or with someone who is intoxicated. This could be D Squared, the HERO Campaign, a friend, a parent, or a taxi,” he continued.
According to Karen Dushnick, there has been a steady increase in D Squared riders since the mobile applications initial launch in 2014. With the help of student volunteers, dedicated advertising tactics, and coverage from various media outlets, their mission has spread throughout the Jersey Shore community.
“D Squared is now on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and has been in the Coast Star several times, and 94.3 The Point. We have had tables at the Belmar Seafood Festival, the Wall Fair, and the Manasquan Fireman’s Fair. We also have D Squared t-shirts, sweatshirts, canvas totes, caps, window clings, wristbands, pins, and flashlights,” she said.
As a nonprofit organization donors are necessary for the maintenance of the free cab services. According to their site donations assist in, “covering the cost of rides, insurance for the cabs, maintenance of the vehicles, and the technology linking passengers, dispatch, and drivers,” says d-squared.org.
Joann Kim a music industry major, likes the D Squared app but she wonders if it might have a negative influence on college students. “I feel that it might promote irresponsible drinking, or substance abuse, because people will know that they don’t have to get behind the wheel. Students might forget that driving under the influence is not the only dangerous situation that can occur when drinking irresponsibly. I hope that they [D Squared] are educating in addition to providing the free taxi service,” she said.
According to their site, D Squared does seek to educate, and positively impact lives through active community engagement. “In addition to providing rides, D Squared is active in promoting awareness about smart choices. We speak before groups of students, their parents, service organizations, and schools,” says the D Squared mission at d-squared.org.
Later this month, Karen Dushnick plans on meeting with the Office of Substance Awareness at the university to better understand the various ways in which D Squared might be of service to the student body.
“It would be wonderful to see D Squared expand. For now, however, we are focusing our efforts in towns and locations along the Jersey Shore, from Point Pleasant to Monmouth University,” said Karen Dushnick.