Changes are heading to the airport shuttle offered through the University of Iowa Student Government after its first year of operation.
Last academic year, UISG allocated $20,000 to fund a free shuttle service between the IMU and the Eastern Iowa Airport during school breaks. UISG contracted through Express Limousine Service through June, and the group now examines alternative models for the shuttle for the 2018-19 academic year.
“We’re still learning what works best, and we don’t want to settle for a certain model if it’s not going to best meet student needs as well as be financially sustainable,” said April Wells, the communications and marketing manager for UI Parking & Transportation.
Parking & Transportation is working with UISG to decide which model for the shuttle is best to use, based on price, customer service, and issues that arose in the first year of the service.
UISG Student Services Director Anthony Haughton said last year was successful — approximately 250 riders used the shuttle. UISG would like to make changes to the shuttle in order to implement student feedback, make it more financially sustainable, and better serve students, he said.
“Traveling over break is already very hectic for a lot of people, [and] plane tickets are extremely expensive during these peak travel times,” Haughton said. “We’re looking for a way to alleviate some of these barriers to travel that students experience. We’re looking to provide a service that is both reasonable and accommodating to students. Right now, we’re just trying to figure out what’s the best way we can implement that.”
UI student Enzo Guazzo Rizzo of São Paulo, who used the shuttle last year for winter break, praised the service.
“It really helped me a lot getting the service for free, because Uber is way more expensive, and it was a lot cheaper than using the airport shuttle service,” Rizzo said. “If they have it available and the times it’s available fits my schedule, I’ll definitely use it again.”
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For the upcoming Thanksgiving break, UISG will work with Parking & Transportation and Fleet Services, a division of Parking & Transportation, to provide a shuttle to the airport on Nov. 16 and 17. It is only a temporary model while the organizers work to find something more permanent.
The shuttle will have regular departure times between approximately 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Details will be posted on the Parking & Transportation website two weeks in advance of Thanksgiving break, Wells said.
UISG is no longer working with Express Limousine Service because of problems with the service, Haughton said, though the two groups had a good partnership.
When UISG worked with Express Limousine, it operated at a price of around $32 per student, he said, and UISG believed that wasn’t the most effective use of its finances.
Though UISG allocated $20,000 toward funding the shuttle, only around $5,000 was used. This year, UISG has allocated $12,500 to fund the service.
UISG also had accountability issues with students reserving a spot for the ride but not showing up. UISG had to lease the vehicle size in advance based on the number of students it anticipated, which led to problems when the actual number didn’t match what it had estimated.
“We’re just trying to [provide] the most effective service both financially and in quality of service,” Haughton said.
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