Nearly all Wellesley students rely on the Peter Pan shuttle to travel between Wellesley, Cambridge and Boston. Students that cross-register for classes at MIT, run errands in the city or wish to spend leisure time in the city
take what is colloquially called the “Peter” multiple times each week. The Peter Pan buses are Wellesley students’ primary method of transportation. The nearest commuter rail stop is a 20-minute walk from campus, with fares nearing $9 for a one-way trip. Ridesharing apps such as Lyft and Uber are popular amongst students, but during peak hours a round-trip from Wellesley to Boston can run $60 or more. For these reasons, the Peter is more accessible for students who wish to commute into the city because it offers a financially accessible alternative to these more costly modes of transportation. However, its reliability has come under scrutiny as buses come later than their scheduled time or simply don’t arrive at all. Understandably, students have been frustrated by the inconsistency in service. However, this frustration does not justify students treating the bus drivers with blatant disrespect. Although the transportation situation is awed, we as students must first rectify our poor treatment of the bus drivers before we ask for change.
Many students rely on the Peter to arrive to classes and appointments in the city on time, and the unreliability of the service has led to increased discontent among student passengers. Oftentimes, the Peter is late because of rush hour traffic that impacts the commute between the surrounding suburbs and Boston. While these incidents can be an inconvenience to students, students never have the right to verbally berate the drivers. The bus drivers are simply performing their job to the best of their ability and are not actively trying to make students late to their commitments or leave them stranded. When students display such behavior towards people who aren’t necessarily in control of the situation, it lessens our claims that the service needs to be better. Raising our voices at drivers or refusing to pay the already lowered cost shows a sense of entitlement. According to a student who took the Senate bus this past weekend, a student was removed from the bus. And in response, other students shouted at the driver, and the altercation escalated until the driver summoned campus police. This situation demonstrates the pressing need to change our actions and to educate our peers in doing the same. Regardless if drivers are late or not, they should never be treated in such a manner. Peter Pan bus drivers are a part of the Wellesley community and should be treated as such.
Students cannot hold drivers accountable for traffic, other drivers or a schedule that they did not create. A dialogue with the appropriate college administration heads would be more appropriate and productive for students. Students must also be held accountable for other behaviors on the Peter, such as throwing up or engaging in sexual activity while on the bus. Drivers are responsible for the cleanliness of their buses and the latter offense is highly disrespectful to drivers as well as other passengers riding the bus.
After we rectify our poor behavior as passengers, we can then move forward in fixing the more systematic errors of the Peter Pan bus service. Students should strive to be more respectful and sympathetic toward Peter Pan bus drivers so that we can have appropriate dialogues that lead to better service. If a student desperately needs to be somewhere and the Peter is running late, the student should use a ridesharing app such as Lyft or Uber and then submit a request for reimbursement to the head of transportation services. While this is only a temporary solution, it is a better alternative than being disrespectful to drivers, which gets both parties nowhere.
Lastly, students should also understand that if a bus is full, the driver is not obligated to allow passengers to stand in the aisle. If the bus is stopped by authorities and is seen to be over capacity, the driver could have their license revoked. It is not fair to ask drivers to put their livelihood at risk. The overcrowding situation should be remedied by having more buses at certain hours. Students should always seek to use more appropriate means in voicing their frustrations. The Peter Pan bus service is far from perfect, but we can make it a better environment simply by treating drivers better. We should not demand better service until we adequately appreciate the people who make this service run.