The Yale College Council has expanded its shuttles project to include subsidies to rides to and from airports, as well as improvement of transit on campus during the upcoming winter months.
The project initially focused on creating a resource guide to navigating transportation in and out of New Haven. Though the YCC has retained its goal of creating a resource guide, it is now moving toward advocating for University subsidies of existing transportation options, according to project co-leader Kate Tanawattanacharoen ’19.
“Yale is unique compared to many of its peer institutions in that we aren’t in a significant transportation hub,” said YCC Vice President Christopher Bowman ’18, who is working on the project. “Students here can pay over $100 for a round-trip bus to the airport, whereas undergraduates at our peer institutions are paying around $10.”
The project is now in the stage of advocacy to the Yale administration: discussing the organization’s proposals and working with administrators on improving transportation options to and from airports. Such options could include transportation arranged by the University, the state, private shuttles or other students.
The project began during last year’s Council under the leadership of Ethan Young ’18. Because the topic of airport shuttles falls under many areas of University oversight, such as transportation and financial aid, Young said major challenges to the initiatives last year included determining which administrative avenue to take.
Young said that since the University negotiated a reduced rate with Connecticut Limo several years ago and currently relies on private shuttle companies or Metro-North to cover students’ travel needs, it is challenging to change the status quo. Young added that any improvement YCC seeks will require Yale to renegotiate agreements with companies, to provide its own alternatives or to subsidize its existing arrangements.
The administration has been cooperative with the YCC, according to project leaders interviewed. Bowman highlighted that the YCC and the administration are thinking long-term for benefits to Yalies as well as faculty and staff, and that such policies take more time to implement than students often think.
Bowman also noted that part of the goal is to improve the services of the options, not just lowering of the prices.
“We as YCC are also looking into creating partnerships with private shuttles ourselves, but we want to ensure that those would be able to last throughout multiple administrations rather than expiring at the end of this year,” Bowman said.
Tanawattanacharoen said the YCC has been sorting out the details on how exactly the University could subsidize transportation. She cited YCC’s partnership with “Share the Bus” last spring to provide a cheaper group rate of transportation to Bradley International Airport.
Tanawattanacharoen said the YCC has also been collaborating with the University parking and transit offices for on-campus transportation.
“[The YCC is] also hoping to improve transit on campus itself, particularly going up College and Prospect streets to Science Hill as the winter months approach,” Bowman said. “Tens of students wait on a given day at College and Wall or at the top of Science Hill to move from one class to the next yet are turned away from buses due to overcrowding. This demand will only compound as the winter months approach and more students try to avoid the wind tunnel that is Prospect Street.”
Bowman added that although students have told the YCC many times that they have problems riding the shuttle to Science Hill, the Yale Shuttle system already runs almost 10 buses on a given school morning along the route. Bowman also said the YCC has alerted administrators who oversee on-campus transportation of these complaints, and noted that these administrators are using this information to ensure that as many vehicles as possible pass by the top and bottom of Science Hill during peak periods.
The YCC has also inquired into transportation route changes for the new colleges.
“Because a number of buses already pass by Murray and Franklin now, the Office of Transportation is not currently planning to expand any routes,” Bowman said. “However, we talked to the administrators about the importance of ensuring transportation options for students in the new colleges, particularly in the evenings as a matter of safety. There aren’t a lot of food or sundry shops close to Murray and Franklin, so undergraduates in these colleges should have the means to safely move between their dorm rooms and areas like the Broadway shopping district in the evening.
A one-way taxi from New Haven to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York costs $160.