Let’s Press the Gas on Shuttle Efficiency

Upper School parking lacks reliability and adds stress

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Danielle Brennan, Arts Editor

Walk into the commons at any point in the day and approach a table of lively (or, more likely, busy) juniors or seniors. Ask them, “How do you feel about the parking?” With an experimental success rate of approximately 99%, it’s nearly guaranteed you’ll hear a strained groan of discontent. Test this hypothesis for yourself if you lack confidence in this claim. And avoid asking how early someone had to get to school to get that spot in Legion.

If you’re feeling like continuing with the scientific method, let’s pose a few questions. Why is the parking so bad? And how can we make it—all Cambridge-area real estate limitations considered—less bad?

Continuing our very scientific observations, we should review some anecdotal data: a typical student arrival to the main lot. Or, as it is pointedly named, “Fourth Lot,” since it could not be first, second, or third on any leaderboard when it comes to convenience or reliability. It’s notorious for its awkward location.

This is the reason some students arrive over an hour before first period begins to secure a spot at Legion across the street. Snagging one of those spots means they can skip a shuttle ride and walk to and from the school. Conversely, Fourth Lot is not in (short) walking distance like Legion, so students rely entirely on the shuttles to use it. The sheer volume of kids who need to ride the shuttles makes the timing more unreliable; arriving at 8 a.m. risks the possibility that the yellow trickster disappeared a few minutes earlier, when it filled, and in the winter, students are left to skate or sled on the treacherous black ice and 10-foot mound of snow while they wait for the shuttle.

But it doesn’t need to be this way. Well, we can fix some parts. Although those who opted to sled on the snow mound might tell us to embrace the Fourth Lot and its quirks as part of student life, we can also improve some of its stressors. We can revive the proposal for bus trackers, which student council made just a few years ago. This would provide students precise information on where their ride to school is—and when it will be there to rescue them from the white-lined, sometimes triple-rowed, skating rink.

We can enforce a stricter timetable for the shuttles to arrive at school, Fourth Lot, or Harvard Square. This will ease tension around transportation. This goes not just for those of us who drive but also those using the shuttle to access public transportation in Harvard Square. We can wave goodbye to the days of nail-biting arrivals to the lot only to see the bus pulling away. We can forget the tumultuous feeling of walking out to Senior Lot to realize our rides to Fourth or to the train left a few minutes early, delaying our journeys home. (If you’ve missed a commuter rail line and had to wait two hours for the next, we see your struggles.)

Although we can’t change the crowded nature of Cambridge (and might have to embrace that aspect of our US experience just as we embraced the snow mound), we can improve our means of moving between many crowded lots. And maybe even do some leisurely ice skating in Fourth with the minutes we save… this time, voluntarily.