One of the Student Union’s current projects is working towards an expansion of the transportation options on campus, most specifically looking to provide some form of transportation connecting the Brandeis campus to the MBTA Riverside Line. 

The idea is in its early stages, and the Union is still in the process of deciding what the project may look like in reality. However, they hope to be able to provide daily transportation from campus to the Riverside Station in Newton, which can then connect students to many other neighborhoods throughout Boston and the greater Boston area. 

The Justice interviewed Emily Zhu ’23, Director of Residential Life for the Student Union, on April 1 regarding the project. She credited Student Union President Krupa Sourirajan ’23 and the Union as a whole for coming up with the idea together after hearing students speak about the frustrations they have experienced from feeling isolated on campus and from the limited transportation options currently available to them. 

Zhu explained that one of the contributing reasons for the idea is that many students have internships or jobs in Boston, and it is very difficult for them to get into the city if they rely on University transportation, especially on days that the Boston/Cambridge shuttle is not running. The shuttle only runs from Thursday to Sunday and does not run before noon on Thursday through Saturday. Many students who need to get into Boston for jobs or internships, or even just students who want to leave campus and explore the city, find it difficult to coordinate with the shuttle. 

Zhu herself has experienced this inconvenience, as she has an internship in Boston and can only go on the days that the shuttle is running. Zhu stated in the interview that the limited hours of the shuttle “restrict a lot of freedom for students. It makes living in Waltham feel a lot more like you’re stuck in Waltham, rather than living in a place where you can go out and explore Boston, where you’re very connected to the city, as well.” 

Other issues that students have expressed facing include the distance the Riverside station is from campus, which Google Maps predicts is about an hour walk away, as well as the price of consistent commuter rail use. Daily connection to the Green Line would allow for more mobility and flexibility for students to leave campus and get into the city. 

The Student Union shared a Google Form on March 8 on their Instagram page asking students whether they would be interested in the possibility of transportation from campus to the Riverside Line. Zhu shared the responses with the Justice, and of the students who responded to the form, 98.3% said they would be likely to use it, and 81.8% reported they would be extremely likely to use it (on a scale from one to five).

Zhu emphasized that the idea still needs to be developed and discussed more, but the Union is currently in the process of organizing meetings with the administration; Lois Stanley, the Vice President for Campus Operations; and other members of the Union. These meetings will help the Union determine logistics, such as where the transportation would go and how often it would run and ensure it is as sustainable as possible. Zhu emphasized that sustainability is a major factor when figuring out the future of this idea. 

Zhu expressed that the feedback received from the Google Form was extremely helpful. They were able to take student response data and show it to the administration as proof that this is something students definitely want and need, and that this is something that would be appreciated and utilized by the Brandeis community. Because of the strong interest expressed among the student body, the Union and the administration “are very eager to get something out there and get something working,” Zhu said.

The official outcome is not up to the Student Union, as they do not, in this case, have deciding power. But Zhu stressed that the Union is doing their best to advocate as much as they can for this new expansion of transportation options on campus.