NYC shuttle sees full-capacity ridership

The weekend shuttles to New York City that Williams Transport began offering this year have enjoyed considerable success in terms of student sign-ups, meaning that the service will likely return not only for the spring semester, but also for the next academic year. A comparable service for Boston-bound students is also now on the table for next year.

According to Rachel Hudson ’10, Williams Transport executive director, student interest for the shuttle has been high since its first weekend trip on Sept. 18, and has grown since then. The program currently uses a ten-passenger van to shuttle students to New York and back, and while eight students signed up for the first couple of weeks, the van has been full for the last few weekends of its operation.The program uses a waiting list for overflow; Hudson said that for the last couple of weeks, one to two students have been on the list.

For this upcoming weekend, a particularly extensive waiting list has pushed Hudson to book a 24-passenger van instead of the smaller shuttle.

As of Monday, the van had 23 of its seats filled. According to Hudson, Williams Transport will continue to swap the smaller van for the larger one as needed, depending on the number of waitlisted students.

Hudson hopes that more 24-passenger vehicles will be used in the future because as it stands, Williams Transport has to spend some of the money it makes on the regular College break buses to fund the New York City shuttles. More students using the service each week would help reduce the margin between what the service costs and what students pay. Pricing for the shuttles – including the 15.6 percent discount for reservations booked at least three weeks in advance – is projected to remain the same at $32.

As of the second week of October, the new shuttle service is also open to faculty and staff at the College. According to Hudson, this expansion of the service has been something that the dean of faculty has tried to offer professors in the past.

Williams Transport may add a similar weekend shuttle to Boston in the future. “That’s definitely something we’ve been thinking about, given the success of the New York shuttle,” Hudson said. She also noted, however, that a Boston shuttle would probably not run every weekend.

Hudson also stated that she has been pleased with the broad student base that has flocked to the shuttle. Most of the weekend riders vary from weekend-to-weekend, although Hudson noted that there have been a couple of more consistent travelers.

Andrew Triska ’11 said that he has been taking the van roughly twice a month to visit his fiancée in New York. “It definitely fulfills a need that was lacking on campus before,” Triska said. He mentioned that the service has not been perfect, citing outdated Web site information, tardiness and miscommunications with parking locations. However, Triska said that the pricing and convenience of the service has made his experience worthwhile.

“I always feel refreshed when I get back to Williams because I haven’t been hanging around on campus the whole weekend,” Triska said. “I hope the shuttle service continues – I can’t imagine what I’d do without it.”

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