The University debuted new GW-branded Vern Express shuttles equipped with Wi-Fi and USB charging ports this weekend.
Sunday marked the beginning of the University’s new contract with RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation, which will provide GW with 16 shuttles to transport students to and from the Foggy Bottom, Mount Vernon and Virginia Science and Technology campuses, University spokeswoman Lindsay Hamilton said. Each of the new shuttles – featuring “an unmistakable GW look” – is also furnished with black leather seats and a bike rack, she said.
Hamilton declined to provide specific details about the University’s contract with RMA, including the cost and length of the agreement. Officials and student leaders decided on RMA as the next Vex operator earlier this year as the University’s contract with International Limousine Service neared its expiration.
International Limousine Service had operated Vex shuttles since at least 2004.
“While the terms of the contract – including cost – are not publicly available, we can share that customer service is a core component of the agreement,” Hamilton said in an email.
Hamilton said the Vex will continue to run on its usual summer schedule after switching vendors, departing every 15 minutes between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. on weekdays. She said officials are evaluating the fall Vex schedule and may make adjustments based on the shuttles’ “expected ridership,” which they will determine using class schedules and “ridership data.”
Hamilton said the University will also continue its “quality assurance efforts” to ensure the Vex is operating safely and drivers are providing good customer service. Officials launched a Vex “secret shopper” program in spring 2016, asking students to report their experiences on the shuttles to the Division of Operations using a Google Survey form.
“RMA has a robust training program for all of their drivers and supervisors as well as a GW-customized policy and procedure manual,” she said.
Hamilton added that the University is unaware of how many former International Limousine Service drivers remained with the company or moved to RMA. Several Vex drivers feared their jobs were in jeopardy ahead of the vendor switch.
“Our understanding was ILS had other accounts and positions available for those employees on the GW account,” she said. “In addition, ILS employees were able to apply for positions at RMA.”
Representatives from both International Limousine Service and RMA could not immediately be reached for comment.