News, University News

UCS offers free airport shuttles to U. students over breaks

Campus Life Committee provides transportation for Thanksgiving, winter break

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Undergraduate Council of Students offered free shuttle rides to T.F. Green Airport for Thanksgiving and winter breaks and hopes to work with University administrators to make the shuttles a service for future breaks.

Members of the committee decided to initiate this service “to make traveling more convenient for students,” said Chair of Campus Life Melissa Lee ’20, and because they felt the majority of students would be able to utilize the shuttles. The service is also important for low-income students who receive stipends for flights but not necessarily for transportation to and from the airport, she added.

“We felt that transportation to and from the airport was transportation that was unaccounted for, especially when you look at low-income students,” Lee said.

The service was entirely student-organized, though the University approved the busing companies. Lee initially spoke with the University’s Transportation and Parking Services Office, but “because we were doing it kind of short notice and they budget for their shuttles and buses a year in advance, we weren’t able to work with any administrators on this,” she said.

UCS offered six shuttles to T.F. Green and served 72 students over Thanksgiving break. The committee planned to offer the service on a larger scale over winter break and add shuttles to return students to campus from the airport but, after facing several challenges, was only able to offer five shuttles to take 32 students to T.F. Green, Lee said.

“One of the things that we found was that we didn’t have a ton of time between Thanksgiving and winter break to get this all together,” said Campus Life committee member Jackson Kealey ’21.

The committee used Ocean State Transit, a Rhode Island transportation company, for the Thanksgiving break shuttles.

Ocean State Transit “fell through last minute” for winter break, so the committee used Durham School Services, which was more costly, Lee said. Because of the unexpected change, “we weren’t able to publicize it until two days before we offered the shuttle bus,” she added.

While committee members coordinated the service for Thanksgiving break and walked student waivers to the Student Activities Office, there was confusion within the committee about student waivers and whether or not members were actually needed at the shuttle pick-up location for the winter break service, Kealey said.

The committee obtained funding for the Thanksgiving break service from the UCS Special Projects Fund through UCS Treasurer Austin Lessin ’19, and the Undergraduate Finance Board provided funding to go to and from the airport for winter break. Since the committee was unable to provide shuttles back to campus after winter break, they plan on reimbursing students who had signed up for shuttles with the leftover funds from UFB, Lee said.

The committee sent out an official feedback form, which came back with many positive comments, Kealey said.

“Most of the responses that we’ve gotten say that people would definitely use it again, that they were happy with the service that we were able to put together and that they felt that it was prompt,” Kealey said. “Most people seemed to hope that the service continues, and we hope to deliver on that.”

Eli Zucker ’22, who used the service for Thanksgiving break, said the service was “pretty useful.”

“It came right near Wayland Arch, and my dorm is right near there so it was pretty convenient,” he added.

Zucker wanted to use the service again over winter break, but by the time he emailed Lee, there were no shuttle spots left. Milanca Wang ’22 used the shuttle over Thanksgiving break after her friend sent her a Facebook post about the service.

“I’m really glad that we had it,” Wang said. “It was on time and it was faster than I expected it to be.”

Lee stressed that moving forward, the committee hopes to work with the University more closely on this project.

“I want to work with the Transportation Office, see if they could fit it in their budget for next year and just have it as something in place for the Brown community,” she said.