Meredith Stafford, staff writer
Recently, Berry identified Airport Star Shuttle as a company that will shuttle out-of-state students from Berry to the Atlanta airport. The shuttle gives out-of-state students both more options, and presents new challenges for traveling.
Stephen Swieton, assistant director of resident life, said that the option of Airport Star Shuttle came after searching for a shuttle company that would service Northwest Georgia. Prices from Berry to the Atlanta airport can be expensive. According to Swieton, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a company called ShuttleTran was the primary servicer in the Rome region, but the company shut down during the pandemic period.
“There was a period where nobody was operating a shuttle that went to Northwest Georgia,” Swieton said. “There were a couple of other shuttle services that previously also had gone out as far as Cartersville, but even those, many of those, had stopped coming up this far because the number of people traveling had gone down.”
During the search for a shuttle company that would service the Berry area, Swieton said that they ran into several dead-ends because they were looking primarily into companies that served regions closest to Berry. Swieton said they then sent out a survey to students to gauge what the different travel plans and flight times were.
“The original intention was to see if we were able to get our own shuttle buses and have our own people make some trips and transport,” Swieton said. “And, while we were in the process of that, one of the Facebook pages—there’s a number of Facebook pages that the parents have set up—on one of those, a parent had mentioned that they had learned of a company that was coming up to this area because that company was servicing both Darlington School and WinShape.”
Swieton confirmed that the shuttle system is legitimate, but does not know whether it will be the student-preferred company permanently. He reiterated that Berry is not directly recommending Airport Star Shuttle, but it is the only shuttle option that they are currently aware of.
According to Swieton, the company runs on a 24-hour schedule and is more flexible on travel times to fit students’ needs. To get involved, students can contact the company through their website or phone number to make a reservation.
“It was very serendipitous that, as we were trying to figure out how to help students get to the airport, that there was a parent out there who happened to know that the shuttle company is now operating in this area,” Swieton said.
Daeshani Parker, sophomore, plans to take the shuttle to the airport for the holidays.
“I think the biggest challenge is getting from Rome, Georgia to Atlanta, like, to the airport,” Parker said. “[Traveling] just, in itself, is an issue.”
According to Parker, both having a car and not having a car can cause difficulty for out-of-state students when leaving campus, because having a car on campus entails the issue of finding a place to leave it during the break, but not having a car leaves students without a mode of transportation.
“Because I don’t have a car, I have to rely on other people for rides and they’re busy trying to figure out their own travel plans and so I wouldn’t want to interrupt,” Parker said. “And so, it’s kind of a burden.”
Parker said that she wished Berry provided reliable transportation at a lower cost for students.
“I just wish they were more aware of the cost-effectiveness of providing and I wish they would do more for out-of-state students,” Parker said.
Sophomore Darren Agyeman plans to drive home during the holiday break instead of flying. According to Agyeman, the most difficult part of finding transportation is finding a ride to and from the airport.
“Berry doesn’t offer a free bus shuttle and so I had to arrange my own way,” Agyeman said.
Agyeman finds convenience to be the biggest challenge in traveling, especially when shorter breaks are concerned.
“Obviously, being a thousand miles away from your college is very inconvenient, so like, you have to plan things out,” Agyeman said. “So last year, when Berry gave us more short breaks, it was super inconvenient then because, I never had time to do it properly. Now that we have more breaks in between, I have proper time to plan things out.”
According to Agyeman, the best way for out-of-state students to prepare for travel is to consider how far away they are traveling and to plan accordingly.
“If you’re living as far out as I am, like over in Boston, you’re going to need to, look ahead and just be aware that since you are so far away from school, you’re going to accrue some additional expenses that make leaving a little bit more impractical,” Agyeman said. “I’d say it’s best to look into your resources and not rely on the school too much to provide you aid in that.”
Berry will be on the lookout for more shuttle options for students. Swieton said that many students indicated in the survey that they were willing to provide transport to the airport for other students. He recommends that students review their options since the shuttle prices are expensive due to Berry’s distance from the Atlanta airport.
“If you are going to take it, it may also be helpful to find out if you have other friends who are leaving at around the same time as you, because it may be possible to get cheaper rates if there’s more people in the vehicle,” Swieton said.
Students wanting to reserve a spot can call (770) 653-8873 or go to airportstarshuttle.com.