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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Union presents shuttle proposal

Published: September 29, 2006
Section: News

A proposal for a new shuttle to the Green Line is being presented to Public Safety this week, Student Union sources said Wednesday.

The initiative, headed by Class of 2008 Senator Michael Goldman, has gained 634 positive responses out of 644 total responses to a campus-wide poll sent out on Sunday. These responses accounted for 19% of the campus community.

This proposal is the first step toward a potential shuttle service to the Brookline subway station on the Green Line, which would run on Saturday evenings.

This was one of my campaign platforms, said Goldman, adding that he began work on the proposal last semester before I had even gotten [elected].

He said that the reason he brought up this proposal was because first of all, not everybody has a car. More importantly, this is a region of our local community that cannot be easily accessed with transportation options offered by either Brandeis or the MBTA. To use the train, then the Red Line, and then the Green Line could take several hours, leaving the students who need to access this area to use a cab.

The proposal, he added, would only act as a supplement, not a replacement, to already existing methods of University-funded transportation, and has no intention to use resources from the Student Activities Fund.

Goldman explained that due to initial doubts from the Department of Public Safety over whether or not the demand for the service was campus-wide, several surveys were conducted amongst the student body, including the Brandeis University Conservative Organization (BUCO) by Michael Goldstone 07, the Brandeis Orthodox Organization (BOO) by Daniel Glass 07, and finally the entire student body via a campus-wide e-mail sent by Student Union Secretary Alex Braver 09 Sunday. What we did, Goldman said, was set out to make sure there was a popular will on campus.

The poll had the highest turnout I have ever seen for one that lacked an incentive like a gift card, said Student Union Vice President Aaron Gaynor 07, who helped Goldman with the technical aspects of creating the online survey. I anticipate that if Michael is successful in selling the plan to the administration, it would be run as part of the shuttle service that Public Safety already graciously provides every weekend.

The results of the survey showed that 253 of respondents would use the shuttle service every week, 240 every other week, and 141 would use the service once a month or less. Only 10 respondents said they would never use the service. With this number of positive responses, even if half the people who said that theyd come every week lied, said Goldman, and no one else even came, wed still be able to fill up two Crystal transports.

308 respondents picked shuttle stops in the Brookline area, as opposed to 113 votes for the Riverside T-Stop, and 52 votes for the Chestnut Hill T-Stop. Goldman said he believed this tally reflected the $3.00 fee for the Riverside stop, as opposed to Brooklines $1.25 fee.

When asked of a previous proposal for a Brookline shuttle, Goldman said that it was not successful [because] I think that it was on a weekday. He added that the reason for the shuttle running on Saturdays is that we will get that boost in attendance for those visiting Kosher restaurants. Still, he said, they are the minority of those using the shuttle.

The survey results seem to back Goldmans claim: the reason most frequently picked for choosing this service was an alternative route in and out of Boston, which collected 490 votes, seconded by movie theatres with 443 votes, and shopping centers with 433 votes. Kosher restaurants only accounted for 284 responses, the lowest on the survey besides Other, which had 163 votes.

My thought is that Saturday night one time this semester wed do a trial run, he said. If [the response] is tremendous, wed try this every Saturday night if its a bomb, well cut the program and run. If its a success, maybe well expand it. Goldstone added that I am personally in favor of the shuttle, it would make it much easier for those people without cars to get into Brookline and have a chance to eat or purchase things.

Jill Seplowitz 08, approves of Brandeis initiating a Riverside shuttle. I'm crossing my fingers for this to happen. Having a shuttle take students directly to any stop on the T would allow us to take advantage of the arts, restaurants, and culture of Boston and neighboring towns. I hate having to deal with the commuter rail and it discourages me from taking trips into the city. She added that I feel like a mooch when I ask friends to drive me anywhere. I would be thrilled to have a free shuttle take me right where I need to go.

Gayle Gordon '08 agreed, saying ” I think it would be amazing to have a way to access the green line without taking the shuttle into Boston. Riverside is so close that it seems like a wonderful option.”

Still, Goldman said, because the proposal had yet to be discussed with the Department of Public Safety, plans to determine funding or a timetable for implementation are unclear. He added that a policy panel would have to be created to determine how often the shuttle would run and at what time the service would run.
By next semester, we could have this running, he said. It all depends on Public Safetys attitude toward the project.

Ed Callahan, the Director of the Department of Public Safety, told The Hoot that it was too premature to predict any future decisions. He did say that obviously any transportation ideas are something to look at, but obviously everything revolves around a budget.

Callahan added that if the student meets with me, and says we have X, Y, and Z dollars, or asks me where we could get the money, well see what happens. Its all kind of iffy right now, because I havent met with the student yet.

When asked if the entirety of the Student Union was behind the Green Line shuttle project, Goldman responded that while a lot of people are, its not everyone. Still, Brian Paternostro 07, the Student Unions Director of Communications, said that he supported the Green Line shuttle every single time its come up. He said that if theres a demand, the Student Union will definitely advocate for it, and added that if its a good idea, someone will usually find money for it so were trying to make it the best idea we can.

Goldman added that while the details regarding the shuttle project were still uncertain, my hope is that when the shuttle becomes a reality, more students will choose to burst the Brandeis Bubble and make use of fantastic off-campus social resources.