Refunds offered to students stranded in Dallas by Texas Express after holiday break

Christina Breitbeil

Two hundred UT students were stranded in Dallas on Sunday night after Star Shuttle buses failed to arrive at their scheduled time. Replacement buses showed up more than three hours later after company officials discovered the error. The company will provide refunds for students whose transportation plans fell through.

Star Shuttle, the company that works with Parking and Transportation Services to operate Texas Express, sent replacement buses to pick up any students who decided to stick out the wait at Mockingbird transit center. According to John Walker, president and CEO of the shuttle company, the buses’ failure to arrive was caused by a dispatch issue.

“There was a software upgrade on Friday,” Walker said. “Some of the dispatch data was lost, so the wrong number of buses was entered in the system and not enough were dispatched for the night.”

The company issued an official apology and is currently offering refunds to people who can prove they had a ticket and were not able to get on their ride.

“We’re in the process of issuing about 45 refunds right now,” Walker said. “I foresee that we will be issuing probably another 75 in the future.”

Computer science senior Daniel Haas was one of the students who was unable to get back to Austin because of the error.

“The driver of the bus that departed around 5:10 p.m. said that there were three more buses that would show up in 20 minutes to pick up the 70 or so remaining students,” Haas said. “However, by 6:15 p.m. — three hours after all the buses were supposed to have shown up and departed — there were still no buses.”

Out of the 600 students that had tickets to return to Austin on the Texas Express, only 400 were able to return to campus on time, Walker said. 

In addition to offering refunds to people affected by the dispatch error, the shuttle company will offer free future credits for round-trip service during the spring semester, according to Bobby Stone, director of transportation services. Stone said he was extremely disappointed about the bus issue.

“While I appreciate the approach Star Shuttle has taken to this point, we still have challenges that we need to overcome,” Stone said. “If we are unable to correct the issues we encountered in an acceptable manner, I can assure you that we will not hesitate to find a new provider. Our goal is to ensure that the University community can expect a return to the dependable level of service previously provided by Texas Express.”