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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

SMFA shuttle system adds new vans to SMFA, Beacon Street

An SMFA shuttle pictured outside of Granoff Music Center on April 11, 2017.

The Department of Public and Environmental Safety's Administrative Services office has expanded the transportation system between the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts and the Medford/Somerville campus this semester, according to Dean of the SMFA Nancy Bauer. Three new vans now travel between the Medford/Somerville campus and the SMFA's campus in Fenway. Bauer explained that the vans take a different route than the shuttle buses, resulting in a shorter trip. 

“The smaller vans can go on Storrow Drive, and that cuts the amount of time that it takes to go back and forth because that is by far the most direct route,” she added. “The vans are almost always faster than the buses … so that's a game-changer.”

Bauer explained that the shuttle buses used in the past took longer because they were required to take a traffic-congested route. 

“[The buses] cannot go on Storrow Drive and Memorial Drive, which are the two roads that are lined up along the Charles River [because] they do not allow vehicles over a certain size to go under the bridge,” Bauer said. “[The shuttles] would take a route that went through Somerville,East Cambridge, and then Massachusetts Avenue ... to the SMFA, which slows it down [due to] the Boston traffic.”

Bauer said she had determined that the shuttle system in place at the end of last semester had not met students' needs and stressed that increasing accessibility between the campuses is a a priority.

“We understand the importance of students’ being able to reliably get to and back and forth between the Medford/Somerville and SMFA campuses,” Bauer said.

She also shared that students' opinions are important in terms of increasing transportation accessibility.

“We have worked with Tufts’ [Office of Institutional Research and Evaluation] to develop a survey for our students so that we can understand their needs and adjust the bus system accordingly," Bauer said. "We want to make sure that we are using the buses in the best possible way."

Eleanor Sultana, an SMFA-Tufts combined-degree student, said that although she still has trouble traveling between campuses, she acknowledges that the vans have been helpful.

There was one time when I got out of class early around four (class ends at five and a shuttle comes at 5:15) and I looked out the window around 4:10 and there was a van there, so I took it then,” Sultana, a first-year, told the Daily in an electronic message.

First-year Priya Skelly, another combined degree student, explained that she has not relied on the vans as often as she would have liked. Instead, she would take the MBTA subway or wait for the next shuttle.

“I would love to be able to say that the vans have made it easier to travel between campuses, but in reality, they have not," Skelly told the Daily in an electronic message. "If there was a schedule ... for the vans, I would definitely use them."

According to an email Student Life sent out to the Tufts community on Jan. 18 on behalf of Transportation Services and Student Affairs, GPS trackers would be added to the vans the following week. The email stated that students should use the GPS tracker on the Tufts Mobile app, since stops will not be timed. Vans would take approximately 35 minutes to travel between campuses, the email stated. Bauer explained that there is now no schedule for buses, which run on a continuous loop.

The email also stated that there have been no changes to the main shuttle and the Saturday class shuttle.

Transportation and fleet manager Andrea Breault also explained that an extra van was added to travel between the SMFA and the SMFA dormitory at 1047 Beacon Street.

“An extra van was added [to Beacon Street] because that is where a population of SMFA undergraduates live. It is housing that Tufts temporarily leased,” she told the Daily in an email. 

Breault also explained that these alterations to the shuttle system could encourage students who live on the Medford/Somerville campus to take classes at the SMFA.

"It can ... encourage students to take a variety of classes that they may have not otherwise, due to transportation restrictions," she said.

Seohyun Shim contributed reporting to this article.