Arizona Daily Wildcat
About 70 community members rode vans to weekend St. Mary's game
VanTastic Transportation shuttled about 70 people to the Wildcat basketball game this weekend, marking the private company's first appearance on campus.
When Sun Tran discontinued service, no other company immediately took over, and it looked as if the basketball season would go on without shuttles.
VanTastic stepped forward and said it would give the shuttle service a try, said Richard Strayer, program coordinator with visitor's parking at the UA.
VanTastic transports people from Hi Corbett Field's parking lot to the front of the McKale Center for $4 round trip - as much as $6 less than parking on campus, Strayer said
So far, people are pleased, said Cindy Maxwell, owner of VanTastic.
"They said, 'we are so glad you are doing this, we hope you keep it up,'" she said. "We've had numerous phone calls from people thanking us for starting this service."
Sun Tran stopped its services because the company was losing money, Strayer said.
"Sun Tran was mandated to balance their budgets, and they've been subsidizing both football and basketball shuttles," he said.
Maxwell said she does not anticipate the same happening to her company.
Neither does Strayer, who said he thinks the shuttle is popular and cost efficient enough to make money.
"If they have enough equipment to support that number (of people), then with that volume, they can make a profit," Strayer said. "VanTastic is running smaller vans, and probably their overhead cost is not as high as Sun Tran's was because it's a smaller operation."
Most of the riders are elderly people who find it easier to catch the shuttle to basketball games, Strayer said.
"By riding the shuttle, they're able to park away from the traffic congestion, and they get dropped off and picked up right at McKale Center," he said.
Last year, 150 to 250 Wildcat fans rode the shuttle to home games, Strayer said.
VanTastic's taking over this popular service will not be temporary, Maxwell said.
"This isn't a trial period," Maxwell said. "We are dedicated to doing any events, sporting events at U of A."
Future transportation agreements between the University of Arizona and VanTastic have not been decided, but Maxwell said they are possible.
"Right now we have confirmed the basketball shuttle, and when that is over we will talk with the UA doing other things with them," Maxwell said.
Even though most customers are not students, veterinary sciences sophomore Julie Diegel said she thought the service was a positive thing.
"They should advertise it more and let them know the service is available," Diegel said.
Shana Heiser can be reached at email@example.com.