Students struggling to secure rides home for Thanksgiving break might be able to find them through the Buckeye Road Trip, but they’ll have to pay for the first time this year.
The three-year-old program is sponsored by the Undergraduate Student Government at Ohio State in partnership with Parent and Family Relations. It offers students the chance to take a bus for various breaks throughout the year, said Connor Hooper, USG spokesman and a third-year in public affairs.
“It started fall of 2012. That year it ran as a pilot program during the long weekend over Veterans Day,” said Dylan MacDowell, a third-year in English and director of USG’s student affairs committee. “The original trip took students to Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati. It was so successful that after that initial trip, another trip was scheduled to those three cities for Thanksgiving break in the following two weeks.”
This year, the Buckeye Road Trip will be kicking off for Thanksgiving break on Nov. 26.
MacDowell said this trip will consist of five buses. Two buses are set to travel to the Cleveland area and three other buses are slated to go to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Toledo. USG added Pittsburgh as a destination to the trip in an effort to grow the program and offer students who live east of Ohio the same opportunities, MacDowell said.
Though the previous two years saw free transportation, this year, tickets cost $15. The price is the same regardless of whether students travel round trip or just go one way. The buses are set to leave Nov. 26 at 10 a.m. and return for Columbus on Nov. 30 at 4 p.m. Each bus has between 48 and 56 seats, MacDowell said.
The trip is carried out using buses from OSU’s Transportation and Traffic Management and the cost for Thanksgiving trip this year is $10,600. The money comes from the USG budget and from ticket sales, MacDowell said.
“The service is typically utilized by first-year students who do not have a car on campus,” he said. “We have even heard back from parents who are so grateful for the program because, even if their child doesn’t live in one of the destination cities, if it is closer, the student can travel there to be picked up.”
Hooper said the original goal for the program was to connect students with other communities in Ohio and to make traveling home for breaks affordable and convenient for both parents and students.
“The price of gas makes heading home for Thanksgiving cost-prohibitive for some families,” said USG President Celia Wright, a fourth-year in public health. “For many first-year students without cars of their own, this helps provide that first opportunity to see loved ones since arrival on our campus. All of us at USG support that.”
The football game against Michigan the weekend of the Buckeye Road Trip has not had an effect on projected sales, MacDowell said.
“The buses were reserved as early as last spring and it just happened to work out this way,” he said.
Last year, the Buckeye Road Trip was offered during Thanksgiving break, for the November OSU football game against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., and for a trip to Cedar Point last fall, MacDowell said.
“I had always wondered why they didn’t bus students to some of the away games and last year was kind of like a dream come true helping to make that happen,” MacDowell said.
Students can expect similar trips during spring break 2015 and a trip during Easter weekend in April, he said.
“We have talked about doing more alternative trips next year,” MacDowell said. “We definitely want to try to have a trip for the OSU versus Michigan football game in Ann Arbor next year and any other big away games. The problem is it is very expensive to get the buses and we can’t get them for everything.”
He added that the main thing he would like to implement while a part of USG is a way for students to nominate trips and discuss pricing options to make it more accessible more often.
Students still looking to get tickets for this trip can get them at the USG website.