Alternative ways home for the holidays

Student rides available to cities across Texas

From The Battalion

Published: December 8, 2014

By: Sarah Medrano

From busing companies to carpooling, students look to different forms of transportation home as the fall semester comes to a close.

Two common modes of transportation home for the holidays come in the form of Zimride, a rideshare matching service, and the Kerrville Bus Company, a charter bus system that deploys the Aggieland Express to College Station for students traveling to other Texas cities.

Ron Steedly, Sustainable Transportation manager for Texas A&M Transportation Services, said the Kerrville Bus Company asked Transportation Services which destinations would most accommodate students during popular travel points of the year.

"They wanted to know what cities we would like to include for break, only express service," Steedly said. "We help communicate these services with email messages to the students, website information, Twitter messages and information at our resource tables."

Steedly said these opportunities given by the Aggieland Express are an alternative to traveling by car or truck.

"Intercity bus service is just another alternative," Steedly said. "When you add up the true cost of having a car and compare it to the costs of using alternatives, in many cases alternatives come out cheaper overall. When you look at local transit, car share, rideshare, bicycling and intercity bus travel, with a little planning you can get wherever you need to go and save money and time."

Tiffany Truong, a psychology sophomore from Arlington, Texas, said making arrangements to get home for the holidays isn’t always the easiest thing, and students should take advantage of the Aggieland Express system.

"It’s really convenient to have, especially for younger students and for students from big city areas who come here without a car," Truong said. "It’s awesome and really comforting."

The Aggieland Express offers transportation to Houston, Dallas, Austin, Grand Prairie and San Antonio with average ticket prices varying by destination.

With Zimride allows students to login to their site with an A&M UIN and book a seat or offer to drive passengers headed to the same destination for a price.

Steedly said one benefit of Zimride is that it’s better for the environment. Zimride received $13,000 last year from the Aggie Green Fund, a fund that provides financial support to projects that increase sustainability at Texas A&M.

"It has a friendlier impact on the environment," Steedly said. "When you compare ridesharing to the traditional single-occupancy vehicle, the impact can be staggering. If a vehicle gets 25 miles per gallon and there are four passengers, that vehicle is now getting 100 miles per gallon. Rideshare reduces emissions."

Kelly Wellman, Texas A&M sustainability officer, said Zimride is useful in getting students without vehicles from one point to another safely and cost efficiently, while reducing the number of cars on the road.

"Having a safe network for students to learn about rideshare options was really important," Wellman said. "It’s a close, protected network in the way that you can see who’s posting what trips and discern more information about who you’re accepting a ride from."

Lt. Allan Baron, public information officer for the University Police Department, said students should take safety precautions when using alternative modes of transportation such as Zimride.

"Once students agree to ride or drive, communication is really important," Baron said. "They should tell a friend or family member where they are going and with whom, give a vehicle description, and a license plate number, as well as talk with the driver or other passengers about travel routes and directions."

Aggie Express rides begin on Dec. 17.