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New spring break shuttle offers rides home

As spring break approaches, students are likely dreaming about arriving at their vacation destinations. But, first they have to actually get there. For students traveling to the nearby locations of Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago, a convenient option has just become available this year.

Director of Student Activities Kris Vatter sent an email to the student body announcing St. Olaf’s new partnership with Campus Connector, a transportation service that caters to students traveling from colleges and universities across the nation. Among Campus Connector’s other clients are Colby College, Gettysburg College, Skidmore College, Vassar Collge and Texas A&M University.

While shuttle services to nearby airports have been available in the past, this new service is more convenient, as it leaves directly from Buntrock Commons.

“We’ve always had a parent or student wanting help transporting to the Chicago area,” said Vatter, explaining that the distance always seems too long to drive, but too short to fly.

“We do know that the megabus is an option, but getting our students to a megabus stop is troublesome as there’s not usually enough students to merit providing transportation,” Vatter said.

The relatively small number of students requiring this type of transportation has been a complication in the past. Vatter has been trying to set up a shuttle service to the Chicago area for several years, but many providers ended up falling through due to a lack of ticket sales. Campus Connector is the third shuttle service Vatter has been in contact with this year alone.

“The first company was a local man who had been trying for a while to get a shuttle business going,” Vatter said. “But he was a small businessman and couldn’t do it. The second company we tried was unable to provide the service until after spring break.”

Eventually, Vatter was contacted by Campus Connector, who assured her that even if just one St. Olaf student purchased a ticket, the service would still run. “Hopefully the third time is the charm,” she said.

Students interested in the shuttle service can purchase their tickets for $89 online. Afterward, they will be emailed an e-ticket, which can be presented to the bus driver outside of Buntrock Commons at the time of departure, March 22 at 4 p.m. The shuttle service will be available for students returning to campus as well, departing on April 1 from Chicago at 3 p.m., Milwaukee at 5:05 p.m. and Madison at 6:30 p.m.

If all goes well, Campus Connector will be available to St. Olaf students for all major breaks in the future. Its website boasts that Campus Connector will save students from the hectic nature usually experienced in travel: “No more paying crazy taxi fees, or riding the subway to get back from far-flung airports. It’s that easy.”

While St. Olaf is not part of the process in acquiring tickets, Vatter hopes students will be able to make use of the service.

“I hope people have heard about the shuttle through the grapevine,” Vatter said. “It’s so hard to publicize, and I haven’t heard any feedback from the student body. I literally have my fingers crossed that it will work. I guess if the bus shows up, I’ll know!”

Hopefully, after an initial run students traveling to areas of Wisconsin and Illinois will have what Campus Connector claims to be “a reliable means of traveling to and from St. Olaf for major academic breaks.”

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