Grad provides ‘luxury’ travel

As the cool weather arrives, the holiday season is just around the corner. For some this means preparing for jingling bells and turkey.

For many others, it means the seasonal task of scouring the campus or the local Greyhound station, paying or begging for a ride back to their home cities.

As a student, Tara Hall fell into the second group. The memory of that experience led to the founding of University Luxury Travel, Inc., a new charter bus service designed especially for FAMU Students.

University Luxury Travel launches its service next week with travel to various cities for the Thanksgiving season.

The company will be traveling to sixteen cities throughout Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee, offering comfortable rides home at reasonable prices.

Hall was interested in starting a charter bus service that would cater to the needs of the FAMU community.

“The idea was born three years ago as I reminisced on my college years,” said Hall, a 1996 FAMU graduate in computer information systems.

“When it was time to go home, I would have to run around the dorms and go to friends trying to get a ride.”

Hall noticed that many local bus services treated FAMU students as an “afterthought.”

“There was nobody for us to call when we had travel needs. We didn’t have a specific number to call and the services in the city did not see FAMU students as a priority,” said the former presidential ambassador.

The new CEO hopes to change that. Her new company will provide service to students traveling home, organizations going on trips or parents interested in traveling to the area.

McGuinn and Gibbs halls will serve as a convenient hub for students. A flexible entity, the company is interested in working with students and addressing their needs. Groups can contact the company to make specific arrangements.

“I think this service is a good idea for people who don’t have a car,” said Marlena Alford, 21, a senior English student from Jacksonville.

Alford has to rely on friends, her parents or Greyhound to get home.

“It’s easier for me to leave from campus than try to get to Greyhound, and $40 is a reasonable price. I would prefer to spend my money with (University Luxury Travel) than with Greyhound.”

Ebony Yarbrough, a junior Spanish student from Woodbridge, Va., offered another perspective.

“It’s a great idea for the city clubs like the D.C. Metro Club or the Texas Club. It’s definitely a reasonable way to get home.”

Hall said she believes her role is to provide the best service possible.

“We forget that our purpose here is to enjoy life and experience luxury. (University Luxury Travel) provides a pleasant and relaxing ride,” Hall said.

Although FAMU students are her target market, the company will offer service to various groups.

“I have a desire to let students know how special they are,” she said. “We must respect ourselves, love ourselves and demand that respect from others. Our passengers can expect the highest level of service.”

Tickets are priced according to destination and are available on a first come, first served basis until the departure date.

They can be purchased at Tyrra’s Waffles & Cream, located on Railroad Avenue or Settles Beauty Supply, located in the Harvey’s Complex on South Monroe Street.

For more information, contact University Luxury Travel at

(850) 222-9308.