AirHop, Northwestern University’s new student-run airport shuttle service, will begin transporting students during the Thanksgiving holiday this year.
The already in-demand service currently has 630 reservations. Students can go to NUairport.com to book travel reservations.
Northwestern Student Holdings, a campus student organization that owns Northwestern Airport Services, and runs two other companies — a tutoring service for junior high and high school students, and a food delivery service for students — in addition to AirHop, took on the former RideShare service from the Associated Student Government (ASG).
The ASG recognized that there was a need for the service, with Northwestern University being so far from the major Chicago airports and started an airport shuttle called RideShare. Before that, “there wasn’t really a service for students to get to the airport in a cost-effective way, because the only options were taxis or the bus,” said Louise Huterstein, Northwestern senior and CEO, Northwestern Student Holdings. Pace Bus offers an affordable option at $4, but takes hours to travel from the campus, based in Evanston,Ill., to either airport.
While the ASG successfully launched the service, the organization realized they wouldn’t be able to continue it, due to a limited budget. They approached Northwestern Student Holdings because of their strong track record with their bus delivery and tutoring services.
After a few tweaks to the business model, Northwestern will launching AirHop for the upcoming holiday breaks this month and next. They added round-trip service to the Chicago Midway Airport and return service to O’Hare International Airport.
“It has just been an absolute flying success, and…the students are happy that the service is still around. While it wasn’t an in-house idea, we definitely changed the model to make it work…in the long run,” Huterstein said.
Northwestern kept the same prices that the ASG had used; $10 for a ride to O’Hare and $15 for a ride to Midway. Chicago Classic Coach will be the contracted operator for the Thanksgiving shuttle service.
If the service continues to be popular with students, Northwestern may expand it into a car service that would be available daily, Huterstein added. “We want to make sure we get this part of the service down perfectly before we expand, but the long-term goal is to expand to an individual car service, that could be available every day of the week to the airport for the faculty, visiting speakers…and especially [for] upper classmen that need to fly all over the place to do interviews.”