Senate bus lacks sufficient service on Sundays

A long line of Boston-bound students at the campus center bus stop have watched the Senate bus drive away without picking up them up on multiple Sundays this semester. Often, the bus is already full with students from the chapel stop. The line of students eventually disperses. Some students turn to more expensive options, such as the commuter rail or an Uber ride, while others choose to wait  two hours for the next Senate bus. Likewise, on the Sunday of fall break, the Peter Pan skipped the Lulu stop three consecutive times in the morning. Some students reported having to wait for seven hours before the Peter Pan stopped at the Lulu in the afternoon.

The high number of students left behind by overcrowded Senate buses this semester reflects an indisputable fact: the Peter Pan Sunday bus schedule does not run frequently enough to meet the demand for rides into Boston. The College transportation department and should consider changing  in the Sunday bus schedule to adequately accomdate student demand for trips to the city.

We are aware of budget restrictions on transportation funding and acknowledge that the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), together with the Housing and Transportation department and Senate, have worked hard to put the current transportation system into place and listen to student concerns.

Starting in January 2014, the Senate bus began to drop students off at Harvard and MIT during the day on weekends instead of at the Riverside T-station on the Green Line. The transportation office, Office of the Dean of Students, and the TAC implemented the change in response to student demand. The College first had to reallocate funding to insure a sustainable transportaion schedule. The new schedule was set in place as a trial last semester and has been extremely beneficial to the Wellesley community. Students no longer have to spend more time commuting from the end of the Green Line stop into Boston. They can explore Boston on weekend mornings and attend the city’s religious services. But the reallocation of funding limited the Sunday bus schedule to run every two hours instead of every hour. The College made this restriction at a time when student ridership into the city was low on Sundays.   

The overcrowded buses and disappointed lines of Wellesley students in front of the campus center this semester indicate a significant need for more frequent Sunday bus service. It’s now necessary to consider a change to the Sunday bus schedule and explore options that can offer students more flexibility. On its website, Wellesley affirms that Boston is “just a bus ride away.” Under the current Sunday schedule, a bus ride away is becoming more and more difficult to access. We advertise the college’s proximity to Boston to interested Wellesley applicants, and the city’s intellectual hub is in many ways an integral part of many Wellesley students’ experiences. Fighting to board the Senate bus to take advantage of those opportunities should not be part of the student agenda.

Improving our transportation system is a first step toward fostering Wellesley students’ engagement with the city and thus enriching the Wellesley experience. Progress is already being made on several fronts. During Ideafest, a group of students received funding to begin a new system using Facebook or Twitter that would allow students to post the whereabouts of the bus and inform those waiting if it is running late.

In order for these changes to take place, College Government, TAC and the transportation office need to receive student input and respond to the increased interest in having an expanded Sunday bus schedule. TAC representatives have stated in the past that input does not come directly from students but is often heard secondhand. The Wellesley News encourages Wellesley community members to email the transportation office and TAC to voice their concerns to so that necessary and well-informed improvements to the transportation system can continue.

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