Colonial Coach, the Student Association-sponsored airport shuttle service provided around the holidays, will not be offered to students this year, SA President Julie Bindelglass announced this week.
Since it began in 2005, Colonial Coach has offered students free shuttle rides to the Dulles and BWI airports. In 2007, then-SA President Nicole Capp instituted a $5 fee for students to offset some of the cost to the SA executive, which had previously covered the entire program. Last year, the SA raised the cost to $10 – due to the rise in gas prices – which was still cheaper than taxi or SuperShuttle alternatives, The Hatchet reported.
Now, with low levels of student participation and rising costs from charter bus companies, the Bindelglass administration has decided to end Colonial Coach for good.
“We 100 percent would have kept it going if the student body demonstrated a desire to see it continued,” said Dan Curran, Bindelglass’ chief of staff. “In reality, the use of this service was getting more and more expensive, while fewer and fewer students were using it.”
Curran estimated that to continue Colonial Coach this year, the SA would have had to charge $15.
“At some point common sense has to kick in,” Curran said. “These buses were historically being offered on weekdays. It made no sense for a student to pay $15 to get to BWI when they could take a MARC train from Union Station to BWI for $6.”
Curran said records from the Capp administration show just over 300 students, or less than 2 percent of the student body, utilized the shuttle service in 2007. He does not have exact participation numbers from last year, but as a member of last year’s executive cabinet, he said the usage levels were lower.
“We simply could not justify the continued use of thousands of student dollars for the benefit of less than 2 percent of the student body, so the program was cut,” Curran said.
Junior Courtney Lada said she took Colonial Coach to BWI last year because her flight coincided with the shuttle’s departure.
“It was less expensive and less of a hassle than going to Union Station, then to BWI, then taking the shuttle from the train station to the actual airport,” Lada said. Without it, she said she would take the SuperShuttle which costs about $30.
Curran said talk about discontinuing the shuttle began over the summer, when the SA committed itself to decreasing the executive’s budget. Its $19,000 allocation from the Finance Committee, passed by the full senate last week, contains only “operational expenses” according to Curran, and didn’t have room for an expensive initiative like Colonial Coach.
“During the campaign we promised to be a resource for student organizations and this is one of the ways we are making good on that promise,” Curran said.