A Ride Home: Sponsored Transportation

Looking for a ride home? At West Virginia University, we recognized that providing bus transportation for our students over the holiday breaks was a huge relief for our parents. To meet their needs, the Mountaineer Parents Club provides bus transportation to help families get their students home for Thanksgiving, Winter, and Spring breaks. We started this program in 1998 with just two buses and it has grown to sixteen buses that travel to six different states. 

We partner with our Department of Transportation and Parking to offer buses to Hagerstown, MD, Carlisle, PA, Allentown, PA, King of Prussia, PA, Secaucus, NJ and Highland, NY. In addition, four of our local WVU Parents Clubs currently offer bus transportation to their areas which include Northern VA, Central MD, Southern NJ, and Long Island, NY. The Parents Club recently added a bus route to Highland, NY to accommodate families from Eastern, PA, Southern, NY and as well as Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Each year we evaluate the participation and see if the current destinations are working, or if a new destination is needed.

Want to do this on your campus? Below is a roadmap for success! 

  1. Gage interest from your parents. Is there a need on your campus for this type of transportation? Ask your parents and choose destinations that reflect where your student population comes from.  Remember that it’s not door-to-door service so you just need to stop in areas just off major highways.  Parents don’t mind traveling shorter distances to pick up their students. As you gage interest, be sure to let parents know the minimum number of riders needed to make a route work.
  2. Partner with your Department of Transportation and Parking. If you don’t have this type of unit on your campus, contact bus companies to determine the size of the bus, the cost to operate and where they go. Be sure to get all the information such as who will check in the students, does the bus stop along the way for food, what is the “bad weather” plan, how many riders are needed to break even on the costs.
  3. Set fees for your buses. We offer round-trip and one-way options. Also, once you decide if your bus is to just break even and cover the costs of the bus or if you intend to make money, you can set the price per rider accordingly.
  4. Create a way to take reservations and payment. We have an online payment system that our University uses so be sure to work with your business office on this. We only accept online payments. No reservations can be made over the phone and no credit card numbers can be given over the phone.  
  5. Make a cancel/refund policy. For example, the last day to cancel a reservation and still receive a refund is “list the specific date.” Have a very clear cancellation policy and perhaps include a strict deadline for refunds. Without a policy, parents will expect to get a refund at any time which affects the number of riders that you used to set costs.
  6. Establish departure and arrival dates and times with bus company. Choose departure times that do not interfere too much with classes but still allow students to arrive at their destinations at reasonable hours. No parent wants to pick up their student at 1:00 am!
  7. Make a list of “rules” for the bus. No smoking, size of luggage, etc.  Be very clear about the rules and expectations of the riders, and let everyone know the potential consequences of breaking the rules.
  8. Market to parents. We work with our Office of Admissions, Visitors Center, Housing, and Residence Life units to make sure that all are aware of this great mode of transportation. In addition, we promote it widely through our parent communication, including our website, print newsletters, electronic newsletters, and social media. Check out our website

If you have any questions, I would love to help you in any way that I can. 

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