Boston/Cambridge Shuttle to resume in February
The shuttle, which was paused in the wake of the November accident, is slated to return with improvements and safety precautions.
Editor's note: Justice editor Leah Breakstone '25 contributed to the reporting in this article.
In light of the tragic Nov. 19, 2022 shuttle accident, students expressed differing opinions regarding the reimplementation of the Boston/Cambridge shuttle, a service which was suspended after the crash. The University’s updates come just under two months after the shuttle accident last semester.
In a Jan. 12 email, Andrea Dine, interim vice president of student affairs, informed the community, among other updates for the spring 2023 semester, that the shuttle service will resume in February
According to the message, Brandeis plans to partner with WeDriveU, a company that specializes in University transportation across the country, to provide a shuttle between Brandeis, Cambridge, and Boston on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Students have expressed interest in the shuttle beginning operations again, as it is a convenient mode of transportation into Cambridge and Boston, and many are also grateful for the change in transportation company. “I have noted the lack of the shuttle,” Aeryn Rowe ’25, who plans to welcome the new shuttle, said in a Jan. 23 interview with the Justice. “I personally don’t feel that not having the shuttle is a solution to what happened ... I can’t speak for students who were more directly impacted on the bus but I am happy that we are getting that route back,” Rowe continued. Students also told the Justice that as long as the shuttle is run by a different company and isn’t likely to crash again, they would feel safe and comfortable riding the shuttle. “If nothing changed that would be concerning,” Lily Roth ’25 said.
Although students were grateful for the communication they received after the initial crash,some expressed that updates regarding the situation’s impact on the 2023 spring semester have been limited. “I feel like they’re not super clear about [the updates],” Roth said. Other students agreed, pointing out that updates seemed to slow and eventually stopped after Thanksgiving break. “They had no sort of follow up or any formality,” one anonymous student told the Justice. “All we got was that the shuttle was suspended and no more formal information. They could have provided a little more security, or at least assurance that the people who did get injured would get better.” Another anonymous student agreed, stating their belief that “the school handled communication poorly. They never did any follow up on it. Eventually they just kind of faded it out.”
WeDriveU claims they have taken several precautions to ensure the safety of everyone who uses their transportation. The company’s “field safety and operations managers monitor WeDriveU’s nationwide transportation system using cutting-edge technologies and robust best practices to ensure the care and comfort of our passengers, employees and the public,” according to their website. WeDriveU screens each of their drivers before hiring them and makes sure they are trained and certified to create the safest possible experience. The company also employs a rigid maintenance, repairs, and inspections schedule for its vehicles with highly experienced technicians, they claim. They are a part of the National Safety Council and are “committed to engaging public transit agencies and other national and local organizations in developing and implementing licensing, permitting and policy efforts that improve safety, convenience and traffic flow,” their website states. Joseph’s Transportation’s website does not list similar safety precautions, but they do have a “satisfactory” rating by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration as of print time; however, it is unclear if this has been updated since the crash.
The University is working with WeDriveU to ensure that extra precautions are taken for the safety of shuttle passengers. The new Boston/Cambridge shuttle will include seat belts for all passengers moving forward, whereas while operated by Joseph’s, many of the shuttle buses did not have seatbelts.The mobile app “Branda” used for shuttle tracking will be updated in order to allow students to more accurately track the shuttle and to account for route changes at any given time, according to Assistant Vice President of Communications Julie Jette in an interview with the Justice. Jette continued, “WeDriveU will monitor mobile app data for corrective driver actions, bus performance, and other metrics related to the safety of our students.”
Some students expressed their optimism about the University’s partnership with WeDriveU in interviews with the Justice. Despite limited knowledge about the company, Roth believes that Brandeis is taking the necessary precautions in finding a safe shuttle service. “I feel good about Brandeis’ ability to do better. Especially because they’ve gotten so much backlash from this; it’s a huge thing,” she said. Ana Wurzmann ’24 expressed to the Justice in a Jan. 23 interview that “as long as the driver is verified and validated, and as long as I myself can trust them and their ability to drive … I feel like I would be safe.” Other students feel that a tragedy like this just isn’t likely to happen again, regardless of the company providing transportation.
Jette feels that the reaction to the tragedy last November showcased the best of the Brandeis community. “It’s very clear from comments shared directly from students, faculty and staff to university leaders, posts on social media, and other feedback that the Brandeis community has very much come together to support one another since the accident in a way that is inspiring to us all,” Jette shared.
More updates about the resuming shuttle services will be available on the Public Safety website’s “Vans and Shuttles” page later this month, and students can keep up with the Escort Safety Service’s Instagram account for more frequent and timely updates regarding transportation.