Every Thanksgiving week, students flock across the globe to cherish the holiday with loved ones. For native Bostonians and those living in adjacent states, home is a car ride away. However, many others bridge the physical distance by taking to the skies. This year, the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate has once again provided Turkey Shuttles for these students to commute to Logan Airport at a low cost. However, the future of this long-standing service has at times been uncertain. Though a small gesture, such initiatives shouldn’t be erased from Tufts’ history because of negligence and the availability of relatively convenient alternatives such as Uber or Lyft. There is a larger communal value that we should be reminded of on this particular holiday.
The earliest records of the Turkey Shuttles date back to Sept. 1, 2001, when the “Senate [would] again offer a ‘Turkey Shuttle’ to Logan Airport … to help students begin their Thanksgiving journeys,” implying that the shuttle service had been provided even before 2001. It is notable that the shuttle fare was $5 then, as it is today, showing that the shuttles were indeed not provided to make profit. This spirit has been preserved throughout time, as Harsha Dronamraju, a former TCU senator, said in 2004 that they “weren’t looking [for] a profit, and … probably broke about even.”
However, because the fares have been pegged at $5, in recent years the shuttles have been operating below the break even point. Joseph’s Limousine & Transportation, the Turkey Shuttle service provider, charged the university $2,025 for their Spring Break Shuttle in 2016, however, only $875 was returned from ticket sales and thus produced a total net loss of $1,150.
Though the purpose of this shuttle is to help students, students in recent years have preferred alternatives such as Uber, which some believe to be cheaper and more logistically convenient.
There is more to think about than convenience at this time of the year. A community is built on individual inconveniences and our choices to embrace them. Elections for TCU, voting advocacy campaigns by on-campus political coalitions, student-led arts performances and so on inevitably require an individual’s commitment of time and energy, and, these are what define Tufts and uphold its vibrant legacy. There will always be more space in an Uber’s trunk, however the greatest challenge imposed on us is how much space we chose to make for others.
This Thanksgiving, we’re thankful for the Turkey Shuttle.