Airport shuttle prices chart steep increase before reading days


Shauna Muckle

The university’s airport shuttle service has expanded rapidly since its inception. Public Safety increased prices significantly this year in response to that expansion.

Claire Hamlet, Staff Writer

Washington and Lee has increased the price of the university-provided airport shuttle service.

A one-way trip from campus to the airport now costs between $10 and $55 more than last year. The price vary depending on the destination, but all are up from the former flat rate of $15. Shuttles to Washington, D.C. now cost $70, an increase of nearly 367%.

Director of Public Safety Ethan Kipnes said that the airport shuttle program started small just a few years ago and has expanded after the university identified a greater need for the service. But that very expansion is the justification the increase in shuttle prices.

“Unfortunately, it kind of just kept expanding to the point where it started to become a bit unmanageable,” Kipnes said.

In the past, all university transportation was managed by their respective departments. In some cases, such as in the geology department, this still occurs as transportation to sites is done by students or professors who got certified to drive campus vans.

Public Safety now operates airport shuttles, staff trips, local transport and other services to reduce confusion. This centralization of control enabled the Public Safety team to reevaluate shuttle prices this summer.

“We just looked at, what does it cost us, on average, to send a trip to any of the places that we’ll go. And we took those rates, and rather than being one flat rate, we said, well if it costs us $100 to go to Roanoke, you know, we’re going to only charge 20% of that,” said Kipnes.

A trip to Roanoke Airport is the least expensive, at $25, while a trip to Dulles International Airport will now cost $70.

Allie Buchholz, ’25, from Portland, Oregon, takes the shuttle to D.C. because the Dulles airport offers the only nearby direct flight home. She said she was shocked by the steep rise in cost.

“I would love to know the reasoning behind the increase, because it is so drastic,” Buchholz said. “If it was increased to $30, I could understand that, but going from $15 to $70 is pretty crazy.”

In the future, Buchholz said she would likely take the shuttle, or drive with a friend, to a closer airport and take a non-direct flight home to Oregon. The 67%-or-more increase in shuttle prices may also add an additional barrier for low-income students travelling home.

University officials said they would attempt to combat this barrier by providing financial review for students who do not feel that they can afford the new prices.

Kipnes said that he worked with the financial aid office to identify students who would not be able to afford the new shuttle prices. He said the service would be free to students whose financial situations demonstrate the need.

Some students still plan on continuing to use the shuttle service to travel to D.C. despite the increased expense.

“I understand an increase in price for the D.C. ride, especially because gas prices have risen, and it is a 3-hour ride,” Mary Morgan Lilley, ’25, said. “Often the shuttle is my only way of getting there.”

The new pricing model only applies to scheduled shuttle dates, which generally coincide with undergraduate breaks. But for the upcoming reading days, no shuttles are formally scheduled, according to information available online.

Lilley also said she’s concerned about the new shuttle schedule.

“I’m very confused because, on [Public Safety’s] website, it says, ‘fall break return’ is Oct. 4,” she said.

That date coincides with the scheduled law school fall break. Meanwhile, undergraduate reading days fall Oct. 13-16. It’s unclear how shuttle trips outside of the scheduled dates will be priced.