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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

BranVan fails to meet student needs

Published: October 18, 2013
Section: Opinions, Top Stories

I’ll just say it: the BranVan system needs revamping. For all the people who live on or participate in clubs on campus, it doesn’t seem that important, but for those of us who need it, taking the BranVan can be a real pain. It is unreliable, inconvenient and extremely problematic.

I take the BranVan every Monday and Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. to a studio across from Lizzy’s Ice Cream for Ballroom Dance Team, and there are a few rules on how to get there on time. First of all, you need to call exactly two hours ahead of time, not earlier and not later. The coordinators will not take your call more than two hours in advance, but if you wait until only an hour ahead of time, the BranVan will probably be full already.

The BranVan only runs every half hour, so if that’s not convenient, you end up wasting a lot of time. My dance class on Monday nights runs from 9-9:45 p.m., but the only way I can get there on time, is if I take the 8:30 BranVan, which gets me there around 8:45. On the way back though, I have two options, I can either catch the 10:00 van and wait around for awhile, or I can take the 9:30 van and hope I do not miss it because if I get out a couple minutes too late, I might have to wait until 11:00, which did happen to me once when I had plenty of homework to finish.

There are only 12 seats on a BranVan, so if it’s full, it’s full. If they ran every 15 minutes, at least on busy nights like Thursday, Friday and Saturday between certain times, then fewer people would have to wait around or worry about how to get home. First-year and sophomore students cannot keep a car on campus, and there are few parking spaces for the upperclassmen who do have them. Therefore, the BranVan system is a vital element of student transportation into Waltham. It’s not safe to be walking around at night, and as it is winter for most of the school year here, walking in the snow and ice is dangerous too. Even students who need to walk to Hannaford’s or CVS, which are only a 15 to 20-minute walk, should not risk slipping on the ice or walking in the street because the sidewalks aren’t shoveled.

If the school is worried that extra BranVans will cost too much money, they should evaluate their other expenses. The Joseph’s Transportation Shuttle circles the campus every 15 minutes from 7 am to 4:30 pm, while the BranVan goes around from 7:30 a.m.-2:30 a.m. simultaneously. First of all, this campus is not that large. Loop Road is a little more than a mile, so it takes 20 minutes to walk the entire circumference of the school if you decide to take your time. Not only do we not need two shuttle services going at the same time, but we also do not need them so frequently.

Also, there is another Joseph Shuttle that goes into Waltham every 40 minutes from 7 am to 3:40 pm How many people need to go to Waltham in the morning, especially during the week? Brandeis students are busy, and they do not have the time to go hang out on Moody Street in the middle of the day when they have classes. By cutting down on unnecessary Joseph Shuttles and daytime BranVans, the school could afford more BranVans at night when people actually need them.

The BranVan system is not bad, but it is not working and needs to be fixed. There are not enough vans at night to accommodate everyone who needs to go off campus, and in the vans they do have, there are not enough seats for everyone who needs them. The vans only circulate every half hour if you can get on one in the first place. I am sick of panicking at the last minute because there were no spots left on the BranVan and I have a commitment I need to fulfill. A convenient transportation system is not an outrageous request but rather a necessary part of a suburban college campus.