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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Paul Revere and Academy make their debuts as new campus shuttle providers

Students+file+into+a+Paul+Revere+bus+on+Monday
Students file into a Paul Revere bus on Monday

On a cold, rainy Monday morning last week, thousands of University of Massachusetts Boston students emerged from JFK/UMass Station to find that two new shuttle bus companies had replaced troubled Crystal Transport as the last step in their daily commute.
Following a Boston Globe report about Crystal Transport receiving a negative review from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the administration acted quickly. Among the claims made in the report is that Crystal allowed new hires to drive before their drug test results came back, and a number of them tested positive. They were also found to have violated numerous safety regulations.
Ellen O’Connor, the Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance, sent out an email to the student body that stated, “[The administration] are taking all necessary steps to ensure that our UMass Boston community continues to feel safe and secure when traveling to and from campus.”
After the company was forced to cease operations on March 29, the administration sought out Paul Revere Transportation LLC and Academy Bus to replace them on the three shuttle bus routes. In another email to students on the 29th, O’Connor wrote, “both companies have extensive experience in the operation of safe bus transportation for a variety of clients and are licensed and in compliance with federal regulations.”
Paul Revere LLC can be most easily identified by their massive, coach style buses that sit high above the road. They are probably most familiar to the student body as the contractor for Logan Airport, where they shuttle passengers and luggage to and from the parking lots. According to their employees, they will be updating their Boston fleet with 30 brand new buses very soon and a number of those will be used on the UMass Boston routes. Academy is the preferred contractor for local universities, shuttling students at Tufts University to and from Davis Square as well as students from Boston University and Emerson College in and around the city.
Paul Revere has started out with eight buses, and the buses seem to be running quickly. The drivers were not taking long bathroom breaks in between every ride and leaving the buses running and unattended as had become the case with Crystal.
Perhaps one of the reasons for Paul Revere’s relatively easy transition is that they already have experience serving the area with a bus that runs from JFK/UMass to the Longwood Medical Area. Employee instructor Paul Joyce said, “[The new contract] didn’t happen to us until Friday, so this was kind of thrown together in a hurry but we have a current route that runs through JFK anyhow so it wasn’t too difficult.”
Some commuting students were skeptical about the new providers.
“From a liability standpoint, I know that the administration had to do something,” junior Lucas Goren said. “But [the bus rides] will definitely take longer.”
“The situation is just developing, but it appears as though these companies are not in any way prepared to shuttle large amounts of students as the previous company was,” Goren added.
Joyce was very quick to point out that there might be some growing pains over the first few weeks of the service.
“it was pretty heavy this morning with people coming off of the trains. A train-load of people is way more than one bus can handle.”
It seems as though the companies are over-taxed as of right now and that is creating some potential safety issues. Last Tuesday morning, on a Paul Revere coach, a half-dozen students were asked by an official to stand in the aisle despite a sign that clearly says “no standees allowed” in the front of the bus. The following morning on the same bus, the number of students standing had grown to about 10, and they had to hang on to empty luggage compartments at the request of the staff member loading the bus. The busses also took much longer to load and unload because many of them only have one door. 
Either way, a solution had to be found, seeing as the stated goal of the administration and the student government was to provide the student body with a safe way to get to school, and Crystal Transport was found to be unsafe. Only time will tell if Paul Revere and Academy can provide the permanent solution and operate in a timely and safe manner.