ND alum founds new bus company
Selena Ponio | Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Christopher Cali, a 2014 alum and current graduate student of Notre Dame, recently started a company called Better Cheaper Bus LLC, which offers affordable transportation for Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross students to both the O’Hare and Midway airports in Chicago.
“Final steps with the University are being taken to have the buses use McKenna Hall as a departure point,” Cali said.
Better Cheaper Bus identifies as a third party transportation provider with the central goal of making transportation more efficient as well as more affordable to students. Cali said the idea came to him when one of his friends experienced frustration with the transportation to Midwestern airports.
“My friend, Rory Dunne, took a trip back home to Ireland, and [when he] came back here, [he] had a 5-hour layover using the current transportation service,” Cali said.
Cali said it was his friend’s personal inconvenience that helped him to conceive the idea of Better Cheaper Bus. Dunne gave him the inspiration to start forming this small company within a short time frame.
“It was the week before Thanksgiving … that we started talking about it,” Cali said. “Through interviews with students, we got a lot of good feedback to make it more efficient.”
Cali said aside from benefitting students, Better Cheaper Bus also benefits the South Bend community by donating 20 percent of its profits to the South Bend Center for the Homeless.
“When we were thinking about the business, we realized it typically fell around certain holidays,” Cali said. “We figured that we talk a lot about social responsibility, and the Center came up in our minds really quickly.”
This donation is the reason behind the business’ slogan, “Ride With a Cause.” The money donated to the South Bend Center for the Homeless will help to finance the holiday dinners during the Christmas season.
“Starting a business isn’t easy, and we’re learning a ton,” Cali said. “We circumvented difficulties by getting the word out early, talking to students and creating a “Request Time” button on our website.”
Cali said the input of students is crucial to the entire entrepreneurial process and led to the “Request Time” button and student interviews. Through student feedback, Better Cheaper Bus could decide which times of year service would assist students the most.
“We’re thinking of running it during Christmas … spring break and at the end of spring semester,” Cali said.
Better Cheaper Bus aims to provide a more efficient option for transportation, and Cali also hopes to make the students’ experiences more comfortable and enjoyable.
“We’re offering WiFi; we have phone chargers on board and hopefully a DVD player. All the while, you’re donating 20 percent of what you spend to charity,” Cali said. “It’s a simple way to give back without necessarily lifting a finger.”