Students traveling home for Thanksgiving break may have the option of paying lower shuttle fares than in past years.
After completing negotiations that began last winter break, Connecticut Limo and the Yale College Council have announced a deal that will offer Yale students permanently discounted rates on shuttle buses to and from John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Bradley airports. Round-trip tickets from New Haven to JFK and LaGuardia, which cost $126 for the general population, will cost Yalies $85, and one-way tickets to or from Hartford’s Bradley Airport will cost $25, compared with $42 for non-Yale clients, YCC President Steven Syverud ’06 said.
Syverud said the YCC began discussing a possible deal with Connecticut Limo after the Council-contracted shuttle service from Bradley to Yale started to eat into Connecticut Limo’s business.
“They didn’t decide to do this in a vacuum,” Syverud said in an e-mail. “There’s a reason Yale has a discount no one else does. We were in a strong position during negotiations because we have shown we can run a shuttle that will be successful and will really cut into their business. This makes sense for their bottom line.”
But Don Cohen, the manager of Connecticut Limo, denied that a loss of profits prompted the company to offer the new discount.
“To be honest with you, we’re not making any money unless we fill these buses up,” Cohen said. “So it’s not really a money-making thing. If only a handful of students [take the buses], we’re going to totally lose money.”
Interest in the community, not fiscal concerns, provoked Connecticut Limo to lower their prices for Yale students, Cohen said.
“We are a local company, and Yale is the main college in the area,” he said. “The owners of this company are all from New Haven … They want a long-term relationship with New Haven, and they always try doing things with their community.”
In addition to offering the reduced rates year-round, Connecticut Limo will also provide hourly service directly to Phelps Gate, Science Hill and the School of Medicine at the beginning and end of vacations, Syverud said. On other days, students have to call Connecticut Limo and arrange for a pickup themselves.
YCC representative Alan Kennedy-Shaffer ’06 said the shuttle that the Council previously ran was plagued by technical problems that students are less likely to face with Connecticut Limo.
“The YCC has had logistical problems in running the shuttle service,” he said. “It’s been a rocky road to run the shuttle service in terms of collecting money from students, getting people to monitor the shuttle, and making sure the buses are there. There are pluses and minuses to running the shuttle system.”
Cohen said he expects students will be willing to pay more than the $15 that the YCC shuttle previously charged for a one-way ticket to Bradley in order to receive better service.
Syverud said he thinks that the new deal will represent an improvement for students, since monetary and personnel concerns have prevented the YCC from running buses except on the busiest travel days of the year.
“Students have wanted an improvement in transportation both to and from the airports for a long time,” Syverud said. “The YCC was able to offer its own shuttle several times, [but] this is the best way to insure over the long term that students will have a discounted shuttle service that is direct, cheap and consistent.”
While some students said they look forward to taking advantage of the new discount, others said they are wary of Connecticut Limo’s service.
Donte Donald ’09, who lives in Georgia, said he thinks the deal will ease his holiday travel.
“I was happy when I heard about the new deal,” Donald said. “Any amount of money the YCC can save us is a good thing, in my mind. This will make getting home for vacations just that little bit easier.”
But Allegra Long ’08 said although she has taken the Connecticut Limo shuttle in the past, she plans to use the company’s services sparingly in the future.
“My experience on Connecticut Limo has been being crammed between a crying baby and a guy who hasn’t showered in three days, so it’s not my personal favorite way of getting into New York,” she said. “But I think that’s great that they’re offering reduced rates. … It’s not bad; it’s just not my first preferred method, [though] it is when you have lots of bags.”
Syverud said Connecticut Limo had agreed to the creation of a student advisory board to assess the quality of the company’s service. He said the YCC is still working with Connecticut Limo to set up a special discount for prospective students visiting Yale during Bulldog Days.