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Brandeis should reinstate the Riverside shuttle

By José Castellanos

Section: Opinions

April 1, 2016

It’s no secret that Brandeis students will often go to great lengths for a chance to get off campus. Though there are chances to escape the often vigorous and tiring pace of Brandeis academics, it’s also important for the student body to practice self-care, which for many students includes getting off campus and going to Boston for a relaxing day. However, opportunities to get off campus are often limited. Though there is the option of the Joseph’s shuttle on the weekends and there is the convenience of the Brandeis/Roberts commuter rail station being right off campus, for many students this isn’t always enough.

The Joseph’s shuttle often starts too late in the day on the days that it does run, and the $6.25 fare for taking the Commuter Rail can begin to add up significantly, especially for graduate students who have to commute from various surrounding regions on a daily basis. Though the Commuter Rail is often enough for some students, the times at which it runs often prove to be more of an inconvenience than a benefit, heavily limiting the involvement of students who commute simply because they cannot wait for the later train. Simply put, there aren’t enough options for students to get off campus for their various needs.

However, there used to be another alternative for students who wished to get on or off the Brandeis campus. In 2013, the Student Union and Finance Board worked with the Brandeis Department of Public Safety to institute a shuttle to Riverside Station in nearby Newton, MA. The service was relatively limited, only running on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., departing every 20 minutes from the Rabb steps; however it was well received by the student body, according to a September 2013 article from The Brandeis Hoot. However, the Riverside shuttle appears to have been stopped indefinitely, as there have been no indications since the 2015 Spring semester of the shuttle running at all.

Presumably, this is due to a lack of usage from the student body. However, in my time at Brandeis I had never heard of any mention of there being a Riverside shuttle, and most students who have been asked about the service have clearly stated that they had never even known that a shuttle to Riverside was ever offered. “I didn’t know there was a Riverside shuttle,” stated Katarina Weessies ’18, “but that definitely sounds like a service that a lot of people would use if they only knew about it.”

Indeed, the convenience of having a Riverside shuttle is not lost on the student body. Not only is the Green Line a significantly more affordable option than an Uber or the Commuter Rail for those travelling, but it’s also a more convenient option for those who commute to internships during the week, given that the green line has more frequent stops that are more easily accessed from locations such as the financial district and the Massachusetts State House than the Commuter Rail. However, to ensure that the Riverside shuttle remains a constant and reliable service, students have to be made readily aware of its existence.

If the university does not inform students of a service that it offers for their own convenience, then it cannot blame those same students for not properly taking advantage of the services that they provide. By depriving its students of the convenience that a Riverside shuttle would provide, the university is only making it more difficult for the student body to fulfill the demanding work and internship requirements that are required for many of its degrees, thus making it more difficult for the student body to do what is asked of them by the university. Graduate student Doug Yetman stated that, “a number of students who commute don’t live near Waltham. They live in the Back Bay, Allston and Brighton, which can be a significant trip. A Riverside shuttle would be reliable on a daily basis, especially during a rush hour, and can significantly cut the commuting time of these students.”

The convenience of adding the shuttle would be warmly received by the student body as a whole, as it represents a medium through which students can further pursue opportunities that are so often lacking in Waltham. The best way to implement this and ensure that it is properly utilized by the student body as a whole is for the university to reasonably inform the student body of its existence. Otherwise, the university cannot hold the student body accountable for not using a Riverside shuttle.

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