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School initiatives

The school currently supports several green transportation initiatives for students and faculty, among them eight school bus routes, subsidized public transportation passes, and the bicycle commuter benefit, a program that began in 2013 and was modeled after an initiative at Harvard University. 

The bicycle commuter benefit reimburses employees up to $240 per year when they regularly bike to work, do not travel via a highway vehicle, and do not receive a transit pass or parking from an employer. 

“It was an effort to ‘go green’ and support our faculty and staff wellness program,” Jill Dubin from Human Resources said. 

Employees are expected to use the funds for bike purchases, improvements, repairs, and storage costs. 

To incentivize biking, other schools in the Boston area have charged students and faculty for parking spaces. Such an initiative could not be implemented here, however, since the Department for Conservation and Recreation, not the school, owns the parking lots, Director of Safety, Security, and Transportation Kathy Murphy said.

“If the city made Lot 4 pay-to-park, that might cause people to think of alternatives,” she said. “BB&N could buy some of those spots then and then charge students and faculty to park.” 

Ms. Murphy also suggested having more shuttles in addition to the Harvard Square one that could drop off students and faculty at convenient locations like commuter rails. Boston Landing in Brighton would service the Framingham and Worcester area while Porter Square could reach Fitchburg’s surrounding communities.

“By having these options, family members would not have to drive into the city, and there would be less traffic and parking needs around the Upper School,” she said.

Choosing a greener alternative than cars, 150 students across all three campuses ride one of the school’s eight bus routes. The bus option costs $2,100 for one-way service and $2,900 round trip—prices based on factors like bus leases, insurance, gas costs, and driver salaries, Ms. Murphy said.

Director of Enrollment Management and Strategic Initiatives Geordie Mitchell, who originally urged the school to start a busing system, said the school offers subsidies for transportation by school bus to families on financial aid.

“We actually lose money on this program,” Mr. Mitchell said. “The goal is to provide people with the opportunity to get to BB&N.” 

While the school does not currently run a late-afternoon bus for Upper School students after sports practices, a new bus departure time could be established with enough interest from families, Ms. Murphy and Mr. Mitchell both said.

Mr. Mitchell added that he is in favor of any incentive that promotes environmental sustainability. A self-proclaimed avid cyclist, Mr. Mitchell bikes to school two to three times a week from Framingham. For several years at McDaniel College in Maryland, he has taught a week-long cycling course that outlines bike maintenance, prope–r use of gears, and safety.

“I’d even be willing to do a course here,” he said, adding, “I’m a realist. I think every student and every family has to evaluate the risk [of commuting by bike] on their own: risk of injury per bike trip versus per car trip. There is a safety issue, but you can be a good cyclist if you wear the right gear and obey traffic laws.” 

The school encourages another mode of environmentally friendly travel—public transportation—by providing two different kinds of Student CharlieCards, Assistant to the Dean of Students Kerri Anne Shea said. Ms. Shea, who distributes the cards and manages the school’s account with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), said that as of October 11, 104 students had used the orange CharlieCards, free passes that allow holders to load on money at half the regular rate, and 30 students had purchased monthly passes, $30 Charlie Cards that buy an unlimited number of rides for that period.

“If more kids are taking the MBTA and using these passes, that means there are fewer cars that we need to find parking for—and everyone knows we have a parking problem here,” Ms. Shea said. “With fewer cars on the road, there are fewer emissions in the air, and overall it’s much better for the environment.”

 

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