Saferide Changed Routes Due to Neighborhood Noise Complaints

2397 shuttles
The new Boston West Route will no longer travel over the BU Bridge on its return into Cambridge, and Boston East will not venture as far into residential areas because of noise complaints at night.
Information Courtesy of mit Department of Facilities

Some MIT shuttle services have changed their services this year in response to neighborhood complaints of disruptions along shuttle routes. Amidst neighborhood complaints and new funding, various MIT shuttle services have seen a change in routes this year: the Boston West Saferide is running smaller buses, and the Star Market grocery shuttle is running during later hours on Saturday.

Boston residents who live along Saferide routes have complained that the Saferide rattles their windows and brakes squeakily late at night, according to MIT’s parking and transportation office. The criticisms were formally submitted to MIT by the office of Boston Congress representative Martin Walsh over a year ago, prompting negotiations for service adjustments between MIT Operations Manager Larry Brutti, Walsh’s office, and the Boston police.

“We spent over a year working on the Saferide routes. The issue is, over the years ridership has grown, so we’ve increased the size of the vehicles. The bigger vehicles take up more room and make more noise,” said Brutti.

In 2005, Saferide shuttled 250,000 riders; by 2007, the service was up to 350,000 riders a year. This year, Saferide has already served 278,000 riders, said Brutti.

Saferide’s presence in certain neighborhoods also violated a Boston law banning commercial vehicles from some neighborhoods, including the section east of Massachusetts Avenue close to Commonwealth Avenue.

Certain routes were easier to deal with than others, according to Brutti. Boston Daytime’s route was the first to be modified. Next, the Boston East route lost five stops east of Massachusetts Avenue.

“That’s where I needed to go, near the Pru and the frats,” said Yingxia Wang ‘12. Boston East now primarily serves the Kenmore Square area.

With its new shorter route, Boston East now arrives every 20 minutes instead of every 30.

Boston West proved to be the most challenging route to alter without bothering residents or violating Boston law, said Brutti. The city of Boston allowed Saferide’s smaller 15-passenger vehicles to continue the Boston West route and granted one stop at Hereford Street for the students living east of Massachusetts Avenue, said Brutti. The shuttle now crosses the Harvard Bridge, not the BU bridge, on its way back to campus.

Brutti recommends that MIT students wanting to cross Harvard Bridge plan to ride the larger Boston East bus rather than squeeze into the small Boston West vehicles.

The Star Market grocery shuttle, which has started running between noon and 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoons instead of 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday mornings, has also seen increased ridership this year, according to Vrajesh Modi ’11, chair of the UA’s Special Projects Committee. On its first day running this year, 80 students took the ride to the grocery store and 60 rode the shuttle back to campus. Modi said close to no riders were using this shuttle at the end of last spring.

The shuttle has also started stopping at all West Campus dorms and East Campus, instead of stopping at just East Campus, Ashdown, Burton-Conner, Westgate, and Eastgate, as it did last term.

Earlier this fall, Modi asked store Manager Peter Edmonds to sponsor the grocery shuttle. Edmonds agreed, and now the shuttle is fully paid for by Star Market. Last year, the shuttle was sponsored by the Graduate Student Council, the Office of Campus Dining, and Star Market.

Modi said there are currently no plans to reestablish last spring’s Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods shuttle despite students’ strong, positive feedback regarding the service. A private donor funded the shuttle as a pilot program until May 23, The Tech reported last spring.