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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A Commuter’s Dilemma


No matter how you get to campus, our gem on the peninsula, you have to agree that the process is less than ideal.

How do you get to school? Bike? Drive? Walk? Bus? Train? Shuttle bus? Or a conflated combination of the aforementioned?

As a graduate student who completed undergrad at the University of Massachusetts Boston, I have used many modes of transportation to get to campus. While taking a summer course, I biked to campus. During my first year, I drove. When I lived south of the city, I took a bus to the train. Now, living north of Boston, I walk to the train, then walk from the JFK/UMass Red Line stop to campus. I’ve even taken a ride share to campus on days I was running late.

Is there a hierarchy for modes of transportation? I don’t think so. Depending on where students come from and how long it takes them using each mode, there’s no way to establish an overall “best way to get to campus” because—between me and you—they all suck.

Don’t get me started with the parking situation. I think we all know the subpar situation car drivers face every day on campus. Some people I’ve spoken to go straight to the Bayside Lot. They don’t bother trying their luck in the garage underneath the Campus Center, Lot D, or any of the other satellite lots. They’re full by 8 a.m.! Will this tune change once the parking garage opens up? Only time will tell.

Morrissey Boulevard, in its tendency to overflood on rainy days or high tide, can really put a damper (pun intended) on a traveler. Have you ever seen that electronic Department of Transportation sign on Morrissey Boulevard that goes up after a rainstorm or during high tide? It’s there to alert drivers of the possible flooding on the main artery. There’s usually a cheeky message along the lines of “Wicked High Tides,” “Yes Virginia, There Is Probable Tidal Flooding,” “Franken-Tide Is Coming!” or my favorite, “Prepare For Yule-Tides.”

Affiliates of UMass Boston who decide to drive to campus during high tide will find themselves tucked neatly in between other commuters in traffic for a long period of time. Although Massholes like myself appreciate the creativity that comes with the message, the message wouldn’t have to be there if the state focused efforts on aiding the road’s predisposition to flooding. Perhaps more drains to, well, drain the water? Maybe students from UMass Boston’s School for the Environment could come up with possible solutions and pitch them to the Department of Transportation.

According to UMass Boston’s website, there are 15 bike racks on campus. Plenty of room to lock up your trusty steel steed, right? I mean, we even have a Hubway station behind the Integrated Sciences Complex for those who use the service. If UMass Boston is so ready to accommodate bikes when they’re still, why not accommodate them in motion? Where are the bike lanes in the midst of all this construction? By neglecting bike lanes, UMass Boston is neglecting bike riders. Even though they are a small community of people, cyclists deserve the safety of separate lanes among the construction, the cars, and the buses. Will bike lanes be in the future of UMass Boston once the dust settles?

Then there are the shuttle buses, which are a godsend for some and a heavy burden for others. While they have their purpose and significance, we could really use more of them on the ground during peak hours. Have you seen the mass of people trying to get on a bus at 2 p.m.? Seems like 50 students try to exit the bus while, at the same time, about 75 try to get on. Even with the UMass Boston app—which allows students, faculty, staff, and visitors on campus to “view real-time shuttle bus information,” according to the UMass Boston website—congestion by the front sliding doors due to people waiting for buses is not alleviated. With a New England winter around the corner, keeping those doors open won’t be an ideal situation for the Campus Center. Don’t get me wrong: the buses are in pretty good condition and work pretty well. Have you seen a shuttle bus broken down recently? I didn’t think so. But what good is all of this if affiliates of the university are crammed in the buses like sardines?

No matter how you get to campus, our gem on the peninsula, you have to agree that the process is less than ideal. And when I say “less than ideal,” I really mean “a living nightmare.”

How do you get to school? Do you have a preferred method of transportation?