Editorial: Local Shuttle Service to Bradley Breaks the Bank: What We Can Do
By The Executive Board
After buying that airplane ticket for break, the time comes to figure out how to get to Bradley, inconveniently located in another state. What choices do students have to reach their gateways? Shuttles to the airport are available every day, but they take advantage of our wallets with their overpriced fares. Taxi cabs can also take you to the airport, but that meter just keeps going and going. Of course, the cost of this alternative can be shared among a group and thus lower that cost for each person overall, but this requires just that — a group. Although the College is so small that you can recognize almost everyone on your way to Valentine, it can be quite frustrating to try to find another person that has a flight on the same day at around the same time who has not already reserved a spot on the Valley Transporter. Perhaps instead of relying on third-party options, students should be able to get to the airport without a hefty $50 charge if the College would institute an Amherst College shuttle service for the breaks that don’t have it already.

Although there are school-provided shuttles for Thanksgiving and Spring Break, there are no lower-cost options for Fall Break, Winter Break or the end of the year. This is a very useful service but it needs to be expanded. The College could either use the same shuttle it does for Thanksgiving and Spring Break or hire students as drivers and charge a more reasonable price for the service. The money would be used to pay the student drivers, and cover costs such as gas to support the service. Students, then, would be able to pay a lower, sensible cost to other students rather than to some random shuttle service, or could work as drivers, providing much-needed additional campus jobs.

We think the student shuttle method would be feasible and would kill two birds with one stone; student employment is direly needed and arranging for transportation outside the school is a hassle most people would gladly give up. One solution would be to arrange student-driven shuttles of campus vehicles at pre-arranged times during these breaks. However, since people leave at different times, this would leave many out, especially during the winter and summer breaks where there are many days during which students depart.

In addition or instead, a campus driver exchange could be formed. This exchange would be an online list consisting of students with cars on campus willing to negotiate for rides to Bradley. There could also be a forum on which needy students would post their flight times and cash-strapped car owners could offer their services. This takes out the awkwardness of asking people you kind of know for a ride in which you’ll have to converse with them for 45 minutes. With a formal commercial contract, Bradley trips can be both cheaper than the shuttles and more convenient. Forums such as these are useful because they create a market within a community of trust.

These are just a couple ideas, and we don’t think they’re expensive or difficult to implement, either by the school, the AAS or some student group. The expense and inconvenience that comes with booking transportation to Bradley can be easily avoided by extending Amherst shuttles to every break and/or creating a transportation exchange service.

Issue 19, Submitted 2010-03-24 03:24:14