The distant shopping meccas of Stop & Shop, Walmart, and the Berkshire Mall became more accessible to the Williams student body this past Friday, when the College Council began its recently approved van shuttle service.
The shuttle, which runs from 7 to 12 p.m. on Fridays and from 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, is a free service offered by College Council in order to increase transportation options for Williams students.
The impetus for the shuttle service was provided by a survey conducted last year by then College Council member Samantha Abelson ’98. Abelson and Director of Security Jean Thorndike-Wilson worked on the initial stages of the project last year, and the project was taken over by the College Council this fall.
But according to Mike Black ’01, who was hired by the College Council to manage the shuttle service, the service has been a joint effort on the part of numerous campus organizations.
“Frosh Council, Buildings & Grounds, and the Dean’s Office have all contributed to the project with their assistance working along with College Council,” said Black.
However, according to Black, financial support for the service has come primarily from the College Council and Frosh Council.
College Council Co-president Will Slocum ’99 said it will cost approximately $6000 to run the shuttle service this year.
Slocum said the College Council will contribute between $1300 and $1500 to the service, the Dean’s Office will contribute approximately $1500, and that the remaining funds will come from other sources, including Security.
Buildings & Grounds has agreed to provide a 15-passenger van for use in the service, as well as maintenance support. The College Council has decided to use professional drivers for insurance purposes.
Currently, only one van runs to the mall, Walmart, and Stop & Shop on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, but organizers say that more vans may be added if demand is high.
College Council member Ami Parekh ’01, who helped organize the shuttle service said, “As of now only one 15-passenger van is going to be used. If a lot of students use the shuttle, there is a possibility more vans will be used and more trips will be scheduled to all of the places.”
Parekh said he hopes that the service will allow some students without cars to get off campus.
“(It) was designed to provide transportation for those students who do not have access to cars, but who would like to buy groceries or take a break from Williams by going to the mall or watching a movie. It will, hopefully, also lessen the burden on JAs who often take their entries to [Stop & Shop or Walmart] on a weekly basis.”
Parekh noted that many students indicated that they would use the service in the survey last year.
“This type of service seems to be something that the students have been asking for in the past, and something that can be used,” he said. “If the response is positive and many students use the service, there are possibilities to expand it. I think this is something that will prove extremely beneficial to the College and that it is something that we have needed for a while.”
“We hope that this free shuttle service will be extremely useful and allow Williams students quick and easy access to the places they need to get to during the year such as the Berkshire Mall, Stop & Shop, and Walmart,” Black said.
The CC Shuttle Service schedule was distributed to student mailboxes last Friday, in time for students to make an evening run to the mall.
The schedule includes several trips to Stop & Shop, Walmart, and the mall on all three days. Organizers say that students should have enough time to do their shopping before the return vans pick them up.
The shuttle departs from the Goodrich Student Center.
“The current schedule may be temporary depending on the student input we get,” Parekh said. “I think the shuttle will be used by a number of students and the great thing about the system is we are open to change it if the students so desire.”
Junior advisor Dave Erickson ’00 said he thinks the shuttle will be particularly beneficial for first-years.
“I think the shuttle will benefit both JA’s and first years,” he said. “The money we spend on renting vans each Sunday for a Stop & Shop run can now be used for other things. I’m happy.”