Bus shuttle benefits students

From The Battalion

By Jennifer Keith

Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012

For the first time in A&M's history, students will be able to go home for Thanksgiving break via shuttle buses thanks to the University's partnership with the company Campus Coordinator.

The “break shuttle” services provided by Campus Coordinator offer students a convenient way to travel to large Texas towns like Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas - trips that leave from Reed Arena and arrive in the heart of the city for Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring Breaks.

The founder of Campus Coordinator, Matthew George, said many students at A&M expressed interest in the break shuttle services.

“Every college is getting more and more expensive and that's a really big burden on some families,” George said. “We have heard from tons of students who just don't go home because it's too expensive.”

Though the services are new to Texas A&M this Thanksgiving, George encouraged students to try them, as the services are thriving at universities throughout the nation.

“I know it's something new to [A&M] campus but it's not something that's new to us,” George said. “We are partnered with A&M transportation departments, it's not that we are an outside business. I encourage students to give it a try.”

He said Campus Connector has a lot of potential to be a hit in Texas because many Texas students come from the same cities.

“The demographics of A&M speak for themselves,” George said. “The vast majority of [A&M] students are from Texas. Students, especially without cars, were having a hard time. They were having to take a cab and then fly to their city.”

Texas Tech University has greatly benefitted from Campus Connector's break shuttle services, George said.

“Texas Tech runs a very similar service through their Parent's Association,” George said. “On a significantly smaller campus, they are sending eight or nine buses for breaks.”

June Broughton, the communications manager for Texas A&M's Transportation Services, said the department began speaking with Campus Connector this past spring to find a way to get students home for the holidays.

“We offer a number of Sustainable Transportation services that make it easier for students to come to college without a vehicle, such as on- and off-campus bus service, car share, bike lease, and bike share,” Broughton said.

“We didn't have a service in place to help Aggies who don't bring a vehicle to get home during semester breaks,” said Ron Steedly, A&M alternative transportation manager . “Campus Connector fills this gap.”

Debbie Hoffmann, associate director at A&M's Transportation Services, said the University decided to give the break shuttle services a try for the benefit of the students.

“There was no cost to the University to partner with Campus Connector,” Hoffmann said. “It really was just a matter of reaching out to them to establish the relationship so Aggies could take advantage of the service.”

Campus Connector, the brainchild of George, grew out of his, and his friends', experience as college students years ago.

“We started up in the northeast,” George said. “When we started it all up, we were college students in a very isolated college in Vermont. A lot of the students in the country have no real easy way to get from their campus to where they're from.”

After introducing direct transportation services to various universities across the country, Campus Connector has grown to be the largest national provider of transportation services to universities in the nation.

George said he believes every student has the right to go home in a convenient and affordable way and he hopes to make that possible through Campus Connector.

“Our challenge is making sure everyone at the University knows that,” George said. “At some of the smaller universities we work with, we can reach students pretty easily. But it's a challenge reaching 50,000 students [at A&M].”

As cab rides and airfare can often be required for many students to travel home for the holidays, George hopes that Aggies learn by word of mouth about the convenience of Campus Connector's break shuttle services.

“We don't want students spending hours and hours extra and hundreds of dollars to get home when A&M has made a significant investment into [these services],” George said.

After hearing from interested students, those at Campus Connector are considering expanding their services to students for transportation home on weekend breaks.

“We have actually had a lot of interested in potentially starting a weekend shuttle,” said George. “[It would be] a much smaller shuttle for students who are looking to get out of College Station for the weekend.”

In addition to being a convenient means of transportation, the break shuttles provide students with comfort and entertainment on their rides home.

“It's essentially much more than the typical charter bus or greyhound,” George said. “The vast majority of the buses that we use through our local transportation providers usually have Wi-Fi and power outlets. We find that most of the students end up taking a nap on the way home, but if they don't, we specifically choose our buses to make sure that they have Wi-Fi and everything else.”