Until downtown New Haven finds a new supermarket, students can ride a shuttle in order to stock their mini-fridges.
Starting next Thursday, the Yale College Council will unveil a program that will charter Yale Transit shuttles weekly from Phelps Gate to the Shop & Stop supermarket in Hamden. The plan resembles a similar system introduced three weeks ago by the Graduate and Professional Student Senate that has already grown popular with those students.
Since the Shaw’s on Whalley Avenue closed last spring, leaving students without a large grocery store in walking distance, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate began, in late August, after conferring with administrators, to charter shuttles to run to Shop & Stop every Tuesday night, said Don Relihan, director of support services. Though the shuttle is intended for graduate and professional students, all community members are welcome to ride, according to the GPSS website.
YCC President Jeff Gordon ’12 said the student government was also interested in running shuttles to Stop & Shop, and when he first found out about the GPSS Grocery Shuttle, he thought YCC would be able to supplement the existing system. But Gordon said he realized undergraduates would need a different service because the GPSS shuttle makes several stops in neighborhoods where graduate students live.
The GPSS Grocery Shuttles starts at Phelps, continues to Chapel and York Street, stops at Humphrey Street and Whitney Avenue and again at Orange Street and Avon Street before continuing to Stop & Shop.
Gordon said it would be difficult and unnecessary to coordinate a series of stops for an undergraduate shuttle because most students live in the same central location.
So the YCC’s grocery shuttle will run in a loop between Phelps Gate and Stop & Shop for four hours. Gordon said the YCC has not decided on specific operating hours, but will make a decision before e-mailing undergraduates to announce the program Tuesday.
The Ezra Stiles College Council had already been planning to charter a shuttle for their students, but may scrub the plan if the YCC shuttle is successful, said Justin Lowenthal ’11, the college council’s president
Gordon said the YCC will begin by chartering only one shuttle and will consider adding more depending on the demand.
“There will likely be a long line and we will be there to help coordinate,” Gordon said.
Indeed, more than 60 graduate and professional students flocked to board the two GPSS Grocery Shuttles that left at 6 p.m. for Hamden from Phelps Gate Tuesday night. GPSS also runs shuttles at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. according to its website. Once there, students have about an hour to shop.
The number of students who ride the shuttle has been steadily increasing since the program started three weeks ago, said Jessie Staton, who drives one of the shuttles. He added that the first trips of the night are usually the most crowded.
Renjing Liu, a postdoctoral student at the School of Medicine said she has taken the shuttle every week since it started last month. She is from Australia and does not have a car here, she said, and she knows many people in similar situations.
“I guess the service is going well,” she said, motioning to the five people who could not find seats on the shuttle.
As of late August, the director of the Greater Dwight Development Corporation said she is in serious negotiations with one possible grocer to fill the lot where Shaw’s operated. She said she has several other grocers with whom she may also negotiate but declined to name any.
The new high-rise at 360 State St. is also planning to open a food co-op, but first the project’s developer must raise $7 million, which may not happen until March 2011.