This Thanksgiving break, the Transportation Services Department will offer a new shuttle to transport students between Wesleyan and Philadelphia, PA and Washington, D.C. Tickets for the new bus will be round trip only, and will cost $125.
The new shuttle became a reality at the end of last year after the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) Transportation Committee proposed the idea to the Transportation Department. The Committee assessed student interest in the shuttles and determined that there would be enough students to fill a bus.
“It’s something that’s justified when there’s a pretty large contingent of students that come from both D.C. and Philadelphia,” said WSA President Zachary Malter ’13. “The most convenient option is taking the Wesleyan shuttle for most people, so having one of those for D.C. and Philly seemed like a big priority for us.”
Malter also proposed combining both cities into one trip.
“My idea was to do it as a consolidated bus, just to maximize the number of seats that were filled,” he said. “I knew that there was a good chance we could come close to filling a bus by merging them, and they were both in the same direction and wouldn’t require a major detour.”
This year, Wesleyan Transportation Manager Joe Martocci worked with Director of Public Safety Dave Meyer and the Transportation Committee to bring the new shuttle to fruition. Martocci said that the bus, which can fit 53 students, needs to be full for him to consider it a success.
“Compared to what we do, now we’re doing something where we’re really stepping out of the loop,” he said. “I said [to Zach] ‘I’ll do my best, but I’ve got to have a full bus.’”
However, some Washington D.C. residents said that the cost of the shuttle would be a deterrent, considering the bus tickets from New York to D.C. can cost less as little as $15 one way on companies such as Bolt Bus.
“It would be really convenient to have a shuttle to D.C.,” said Rachel Connor ’13. “But it’s still much cheaper to get a ride to New Haven, take a train to New York, then take a bus to D.C..”
Because of Martocci’s safety concerns about the bus leaving late at night, the shuttle will depart from campus on Wed., Nov. 23 at 9 a.m.
“I was concerned that if they left here at 5 [on Tuesday], you’re getting into D.C. at 11 or 12 at night,” he said. “I really wasn’t sure about that…I want everybody to be safe.”
Transportation Chair for the WSA Evan Weber ’13 said that the WSA and the Transportation Department will heavily advertise the new shuttle.
“We’re going to be doing a lot of advertising and outreach in the weeks leading up to it,” he said. “We want to make sure the buses get filled.”
During last Thanksgiving break, a record-breaking 1,200 students used Transportation Department shuttles to travel to train stations, Bradley International Airport, New York, and Boston. Martocci is optimistic that this new shuttle will be filled as well.
“We have a dedicated bus with students on it that’s going there,” he said. “I think it’s cool, and I’d like to see it work, because we’re only talking 53 students.”
Martocci noted that the Department will look at expanding the bus to other breaks if this trial run goes well.
“If it’s successful, we’ll take it one step at a time,” he said. “If it’s a full bus and the students liked it, we would consider expanding it.”
Malter said that students considering taking the bus should try it out during this break so that the bus will continue in the future.
“I encourage people to take it, because if they want to see the bus in place for future years, they should take this time to show that they would find it useful,” he said. “If students are on the fence, they should definitely take it, and it will pay off in the long run for sure.”
Tickets for the shuttle are on sale now at the box office and online.