The inaugural run of the student-operated airport shuttle service Campus Bus — which featured vehicles ranging from yellow school buses to black stretch limos — drew mixed reactions from students. Some of those who used the service for travel to and from spring break praised it for its affordability, but others criticized it for being less reliable than more expensive alternatives.
Campus Bus, run by Louis Gresham ’08 and Francisco Liquido ’08, sold more than 700 tickets and contracted approximately 30 vehicles per day for hourly trips between Yale and Bradley International Airport in Connecticut and John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports in New York City. Some students said Campus Bus was a cheap and convenient alternative to Connecticut Limo and Prime Time Shuttle, while others said they encountered setbacks such as late or missing buses and confusing departure instructions.
Liquido said that in spite of a few last-minute problems, the organization offered a much-needed service on campus.
“I think Campus Bus was an overall success,” he said. “Louis and I really wanted to provide a service that would help both the Yale community and communities abroad.”
Due to the large number of students who purchased tickets, Campus Bus was able to offer approximately 15 trips per airport on each of the six days during which the shuttles operated, Gresham said. The service offered round-trip transportation to Bradley for $30 and to JFK and LaGuardia for $50, compared to Connecticut Limo’s fees of $50 and $85, respectively.
Liquido said that although the service raised over $16,000, the profit from Campus Bus will be small because of the high frequency of shuttles and the low ticket prices. While Gresham and Liquido said they still plan to split profit between two charities — the New Haven Relay for Life and victims of nuclear waste in the Philippines — the primary goal of Campus Bus was to serve the Yale community.
“We wanted to have buses going on the hour, and we wanted to be really cheap, too,” Gresham said.
Liquido said that despite early concerns caused by the snowfall before spring break, the shuttles operated with relatively few glitches. He said most of the problems resulted when students failed to follow the directions outlined on the tickets, in e-mails and on the Campus Bus Web site.
“As long as people did what they were supposed to do, we were able to offer a quality product,” Liquido said.
But several students said late and missing buses complicated their travel plans and cost them extra money.
Mari-e Takahashi ’08 said the bus she planned to take on Friday, March 3, from Yale to JFK did not arrive on time. She and her friends took a taxi to the airport instead, which cost them each about $60, because they were afraid they would miss their international flight, she said.
“There were a lot of people waiting, and a lot of them had international flights that they had to make,” Takahashi said. “It was nerve-wracking, because we didn’t know if Campus Bus was going to come.”
Gresham said the missing vehicle was the result of a miscommunication with one of the multiple bus companies used by Campus Bus, but an emergency bus was available about half an hour after the scheduled departure time for those who were willing to wait.
Antuan Cannon ’06 said he and the rest of the club soccer team were also left stranded when a bus cancelled at the last minute. Although Campus Bus found vans to transport some of the dozens of students waiting for the bus, the remainder had to wait over an hour for another bus to arrive, he said. Fortunately, the team’s flight to Puerto Rico was delayed.
Some students also said they had difficulty on their way back while trying to find their buses at the airport. Ali Seitz ’09 said she followed the directions she received from Campus Bus but could not find her return shuttle from LaGuardia and ended up purchasing a ticket from Prime Time Shuttle instead.
“It was awesome on the way there, but on the way back I waited for two and a half hours, and it never came,” Seitz said.
But a number of other students said they were happy with the service, and some said they appreciated the flexibility offered by frequent shuttles when returning from the airports. Brian Stephenson ’09 said he chose Campus Bus because it saved him money, and the quality of the service exceeded his expectations.
“The company that came to get us was actually a limo,” he said. “We got a limo ride to the airport for only $15.”
Gresham said that because only a certain number of school buses were available at some times, he and Liquido had to contract a number of other vehicles, including a few limos at a discounted price, from the companies with which they were working.
Jarrett Drake ’09 said he chose Campus Bus not only because it was affordable and accommodated his flight schedule, but also because it was run by Yale students and the proceeds went to charity.
“I’m surprised more people didn’t take it,” he said. “It worked fine for me, and I’d recommend it to anybody.”
Liquido said he and Gresham hope to offer Campus Bus again, but in order to do so, they will need additional help running the service.