For Penn State students who travel by plane to get home at the end of each semester, booking flights and travel arrangements can be just one more item on the long list of end-of-semester worries. But thanks to a new pilot program created by the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) and Penn State Transportation Services, getting to the University Park airport won't be one of them.
Beginning Thursday, May 5 and continuing through Saturday, May 7, students flying from the University Park Airport can take advantage of a free airport shuttle service, paid for by UPUA and operated by Transportation Services. Riders will travel to the airport in one of Penn State's signature blue buses, with pickup each hour, on the hour, in front of the HUB-Robeson Center on Pollock Road. Service hours will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 5 and Friday, May 6, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 7.
Registration for the airport shuttle is available now online and will remain available until 5 p.m. Monday, May 2. Students must register before the deadline to use the service.
The genesis of the service, according to UPUA Facilities Chairman Brent Rice, was a conversation with UPUA representative Vansh Prabhu (who hails from Colorado) regarding the lack of transportation options for getting to the airport. "As he explained how difficult it was for him to get to the airport from campus each semester, it struck me that many students likely share this same difficulty with end-of-semester travel, and that UPUA might have an opportunity to help," Rice says.
Rice and UPUA Speaker of the Assembly Alex Shockley began to research programs at other universities, and decided that a shuttle service would be the best approach. During a meeting of the Student Transportation Commission, where student leaders and Transportation Services staff discuss current and upcoming transportation projects as well as student concerns, Rice brought the idea to Transportation Services Director Rob DeMayo, who connected the students with Fleet Services Manager Keith Beisel to develop a service that would meet student needs and UPUA's budget.
For Beisel, the opportunity to work with student leaders on this initiative was very rewarding. "UPUA came to us with a great idea to make travel easier for Penn State students, and we're happy that we could help turn that idea into a reality," he says.
Depending on participation in this spring's pilot program, the service might be provided again during future semesters. Shockley, for one, hopes that will be the case. "This is a great way for UPUA to serve our fellow Penn State students, and we hope they find this to be a service that makes their lives easier at the end of a busy semester."
For more information on the airport shuttle service, email UPUA Facilities Chair Brent Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions may also be directed to Transportation Services' Fleet Operations office by phone at 814-865-7571 or by email at email@example.com.