Students lined up last Friday in front of Lowell House at 4pm to wait for shuttles to take them to New Haven, Conn.
A shortage of Undergraduate Council (UC) shuttles left several students scrambling to catch last-minute transportation to the festivities in New Haven this weekend.
But the UC attributed the shortage of shuttle tickets to and from Yale to the success of the Campus Life Committee (CLC) in generating excitement about “The Game,” not to a failure by the committee to plan ahead.
“The shortage of shuttles is an indirect effect of how well we hyped up Harvard-Yale this year,” said CLC Services Chair John F. Voith ’07. “We sold more tickets than ever this year and I attribute that to all the spirit around campus.”
According to Voith, the success of the first pep rally in several years, attended by over 2,000 students last Thursday night, showed that undergrads had a strong desire to cheer on the Crimson at The Game.
Thirty Peter Pan buses gave 1620 Harvard students transportation to and from The Game this year, said CLC Services Vice Chair Nick E. Huber ’09, who was in charge of coordinating the shuttles. Although 100 more seats were available this year than two years ago, he said, the tickets sold out a day earlier, by 5 p.m. on the Wednesday before The Game.
“It surprised a lot of people how quickly they sold out, but I think it is a testament to how good of a job we did publicizing it,” Huber said.
He said that the CLC decided upon the number of shuttle buses needed this year after reviewing the number of students who rode the shuttles two years ago.
But students who did not buy their tickets in advance said that the UC should have surveyed students this year to come up with a more accurate measure of the demand for tickets.
According to Huber, while the CLC would have liked to order more shuttles after selling out on Wednesday, an attempt to charter two last minute shuttles to Yale two years ago caused great coordination problems and inconvenience.
“We didn’t want to risk a huge financial loss by chartering an exorbitant number of shuttles,” he said.
Several shuttle-less students, however, were upset when they arrived at the Murr Center box office on Thursday only to find that shuttle tickets had been sold out.
Many desperate students scrambled to find alternate methods of transportation, while others e-mailed house lists to see if any students were selling their shuttle tickets.
“I didn’t know that the tickets were running out so quickly,” said Carolina Lescano ’08, who, like many other shuttle-less students, ended up driving down to New Haven on Friday night.
While shuttle tickets cost $20 for a one-way ticket and $30 for a round-trip after the UC subsidized $6,000 of the $55,000 contract, some students had to pay $60 for a round trip Greyhound bus ride.
Others were unable to get to the game at all.
Although the UC did offer more buses than last year, the committee acknowledged that ticket sell-out problem could have been avoided.
“There are a lot of options for how to resolve the problem,” said UC Treasurer Matthew R. Greenfield ’08. “One, to try to get a better feel beforehand of how many people want to get a shuttle.”
Another option is to set up a contract allowing students to reserve tickets in advance so that the UC can’t sell out, he said.
“The broader lesson is that a little consultation never hurts,” said Greenfield.
“We learn a lesson from this so that two years from now this won’t happen the same way again.”