Waltham Group will not run shuttles to Logan International Airport this Thanksgiving, as they have in previous years, due to short staffing, and past traffic and weather-related issues that have led to a number of students almost missing their flights, wrote Director of the Department of Community Service Lucas Malo in an email to the Justice on Monday.

Waltham Group’s withdrawal from the shuttle program leaves the service without a sponsor or a clear-cut way to continue the route. The Turkey Shuttles from the University to New York City and Newark, which are unaffiliated with Waltham Group, will be running as usual this Thanksgiving.

Waltham Group leadership and DCS jointly made the decision last year not to run the shuttles and informed the Student Union during the summer, Waltham Group President Theresa Weis ’20 wrote in an email to the Justice Monday. Student Union President Simran Tatuskar ’21 told the Justice on Thursday that Waltham Group reached out to her about the Logan shuttles, but she did not say whether the Union would take over the route.

In recent years, DCS has been “unable to find certified drivers for the vans for all routes and in many instances, even with the limited number of staff in DCS we could not find enough drivers,” Malo wrote in his email. The service is student-run, and Waltham Group has consistently struggled to find shuttle drivers because of students going home for the holiday, Weis wrote. She said DCS staff tried to fill the gap in previous years, but the department’s four staff members were not sufficient. Malo wrote that DCS had offered to pay student drivers, but this still did not garner sufficient staff. 

Malo said that student demand for the shuttles has also declined, most likely because of the increase in rideshare options. Some vans have only had three or four riders in recent years, he told the Justice.

Weather and traffic issues have plagued the shuttle service’s ability to run efficiently, with students often at risk of missing their flights. Other students’ flight departure and arrival times changed or were delayed, which made it more difficult for Waltham Group to coordinate vans to bring them to and from campus. In one instance, traffic caused a van to take two hours to return to campus from the airport.

“In this case, we were unable to get the van back to campus in time to pick up the next batch of students for their flights and this driver was the only available driver to assist.  We had to problem solve, but this situation almost cost students missing their flights and required staff members from outside of our department to respond to the situation,” Malo wrote. “When you have limited drivers and vans [it’s] a complicated puzzle.”

Additionally, financial difficulties forced Waltham Group to discontinue the service. The shuttles served as a fundraiser for Waltham Group, but lower interest rates rendered the service “ineffective” at bringing in a profit, Weis wrote.

Malo wrote, “It became very clear that we were offering a service that was best [run] by a professional company and that a student fundraiser was not the best option for this service.”