Safety woes lead to cheaper taxis
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 12:10
First-year Caroline Bouillon spent almost $50 a week on taxi services downtown.
Thanks to recent initiatives focusing on student safety, Bouillon can now take seven taxi rides for less than half that price.
Vermont Tour and Charter, a small ground transportation company based in the Greater Burlington area, has expanded its services to the UVM community through an affordable prepaid taxi service.
As of Oct. 5, students can purchase a $20 punch card worth seven rides at the UVM Bookstore or from the driver during service, SGA President Connor Daley said.
The card averages out to only $2.85 per ride, he said.
“This is a really great idea for student safety and a great way to carpool,” Daley said.
SGA Vice President Samantha Holland explained that the taxi company was used in the past mainly to shuttle students back and forth to the Burlington International Airport, but they are now interested in branching out to the downtown Burlington area.
This area, called the Catamount Zone, includes UVM campus, downtown Burlington, off-campus housing areas, the airport, the Essex Amtrak station, University Mall and Higher Ground. The airport and Amtrak require two punches.
“They’ll serve the Catamount Zone now only for UVM students,” Holland said.
If the service tests out successfully, payments could possibly be made with Cat$cratch in the future, she said.
UVM Bookstore Director Jay Menninger was approached by William Cross, head of Vermont Tour and Charter, about this idea.
“I asked my work studies about it,” Menninger said. “‘What do you think about this? Seven rides, 20 bucks. Do you think it’s a good idea?’ Most of them said yes.”
Menninger said he hopes students will take advantage of the affordable investment in one’s safety because it is a good deal.
“You can’t get from here to the airport for less than $20,” he said. “And if a student finds themselves downtown alone at 11 o’clock at night, they can just call or text the service’s number and the taxi will come and pick them up. I think from that perspective it’s a really good idea.”
For the past few months, Cross and his team have been racking their brains for approaches to provide their services to the UVM community, and they came up with the Catamount Zone Program.
“Our goal was to provide safe and convenient door to door transportation at extremely affordable prices,” Cross stated in an email. “Participants simply text or call for a ride. In most cases, the response time is less than 15 minutes.”
The service is available 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. during the week, with hours extended until 4 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday; transit with the airport and Amtrak is accessible 24/7.
Six of the passes have been sold in the bookstore as of Oct. 9, three of which were sold Oct. 8, said Enrique Peredo, business support generalist at the UVM Bookstore.
Bouillon does not have a car on campus so she often takes a taxi, but she said the rides get expensive and she could benefit from this service.
“The much cheaper price will be useful for students,” she said. “For kids who don’t have cars, it’s great for safety. Even though Burlington is small, it’s safer to take a taxi than walk.”