Bad options in the MBTA's future and How to get from Allston to Longwood (depending on who you are)

A report released last week by the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG) describes a bleak future for public transportation in Massachusetts because of the MBTA's five year budget deficit of approximately $400 million. Reductions in service, fare increases, and increased borrowing are possible impacts. In the current climate of environmental consciousness shouldn't we be increasing service and reducing fares?
Press release Full report Online petition to Governor Patrick urging him to prioritize public transportation

Related to the issue of public transportation in Allston is how Harvard University is approaching the transportation needs of its new population in Allston. This Google map shows that it is a simple 3.3 mile trip from the Science Complex (140 Western Ave) to Harvard Medical School (25 Shattuck St).

But pity the unfortunate person that tries to make this trip via public transportation. According to the MBTA's Trip Planner there are two ways to make this trip. In my opinion they both stink.

You can take a 50 minute trip that puts you on the #70 bus to Central Sq, then the #47 bus, and finishes with a 9 minute walk. Or you can take a 7 minute walk to North Harvard St, ride the #66 to Brookline Village, then take the #60 down Brookline Ave, and end with a 10 minute walk. This takes "only" 49 minutes.

Of course this is just one example, but it must not have been the example that Harvard had in mind when it concluded that "Harvard’s Allston campus is well-served by MBTA bus routes"

But Harvard's people do not need to worry about spending almost 1 hour of their lives to go a bit more than 3 miles. Harvard plans "a dedicated, on-demand van service traveling point-to-point between the Science Complex and the Longwood Medical Area". As a result, "the Science Complex does not require an increase in the MBTA service in Allston." (quotations from Harvard's Science Complex Transportation Access Plan).

Where I work we talk about "eating our own dogfood". Basically this means that if what we make is going to be good enough for our customers, it better be good enough for us to use too. Unfortunately, Harvard's approach to developing its Allston campus takes the opposite approach.

Obviously the MBTA service in North Allston and North Brighton is pitiful for people traveling to many nearby locations. The bicycling infrastructure is pretty bad too. So a lot of people spend a lot of money and pollute the environment doing a lot of driving to locations that are actually quite close. Private shuttles make a lot of sense when a small number of people are interested in travelling between a set of nearby destinations. But North Allston to Longwood is a longer trip of interest to the general public and a private transit connection seems inappropriate.

An institution interested in being part of the community would not pretend that public transportation is good while at the same time proposing a parallel private system. Real sustainability means moving beyond the idea of a green campus isolated from the rest of the world and realizing that this campus must integrate into a green society.

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