Shuttle set to take students to Hill, Fenway

By Jill Campbell

After the T stops running, getting home at the end of the night can be rough, and not necessarily safe. But help is on the way.

An after-hours shuttle service that will run between the Fenway, Mission Hill and campus has been approved by the university. Only one hurdle remains in the service’s implementation, according to groups who planned it.

The Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR), the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Division of Public Safety have been working together to create the service.

Before the shuttle can begin running, the plan needs approval from Boston city government, said Vice President for Student Affairs Ed Klotzbier.

“We’ve got the green light from the university,” Klotzbier said. “We need permission from the Boston Department of Transportation and from City Hall to actually be able to run the shuttle.”

The proposed shuttle will leave from Ruggles Station and make stops at Brigham Circle and Landmark Center, near the Fenway. The shuttle would operate from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., seven days a week. Cost would be free for any Northeastern student with a Husky Card. Each Northeastern student will be permitted to admit one non-student as a guest on the bus, if necessary. The service will run only during the fall and spring semesters, not during breaks or over the summer.

Klotzbier said neither smoking nor alcohol will be allowed on the bus. However, intoxicated students who wish to take the shuttle will not be reported to OSCCR, even if they are underage, as long as they behave appropriately while inside the vehicle.

“A visibly drunk student will be allowed on the bus as long as they don’t create an incident,” Klotzbier said. “But if you do anything while on the bus that violates any kind of a code of conduct, you’ll be written up and sent to OSCCR.”

He said the shuttle would not be “a sting operation,” and was “designed solely to get students back to campus safely.”

The university is also discussing the possibility of contracting the shuttle service to a private transportation company, which would allow it to carry a larger number of students, rather than keeping the service in-house.

“Rather than use the Northeastern vans, which are limited in space, we could hire a private company with a larger vehicle that would be able to carry 40 or 45 people at a time,” Klotzbier said.

The public safety division already provides a shuttle service for students who live off campus, but it does not have a consistent route, as the proposed shuttle would.

Associate Director of Public Safety Jim Ferrier said the public safety shuttle leaves the front steps of Snell Library every hour, on the hour, from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m., and also stops outside Ruggles station.

“If you live off campus, within about a mile of campus, it will take you right to your front door,” Ferrier said. “Typically only two or three people use it each hour, so they tell the driver where they live, and he figures out the most efficient way to get them all home.”

Public safety also offers an on-campus escort service 24 hours a day. Any student who feels unsafe at any time while on campus can call the Northeastern Police Department, and an officer will be sent to either walk or drive the student to his or her on-campus destination. Ferrier said this service is most often used by students who work late and feel unsafe walking back to their residence halls alone in the dark.

The student government proposed the shuttle bus after a series of muggings in the Fenway area. Several students were victimized, and some were assaulted, said SGA President Rogan O’Handley.

Similar incidents have also been reported in the Mission Hill area. Ferrier said NUPD does not know of specific incidents, because Mission Hill is in the jurisdiction of the Boston Police Department.

“[The Public Safety shuttle] will still be offered, and the new one will complement that,” Klotzbier said. “We felt we needed to step it up and have something more constant than that. So you will have two alternatives,” Klotzbier said.

Klotzbier said the route may eventually be extended past Brigham Circle, as many students live farther down Huntington Avenue toward Jamaica Plain. Once the shuttle starts running, both SGA and OSCCR plan to seek out student response.

“The Student Government Association will be analyzing the preliminary setup of the program and making sure that it makes sense for students,” O’Handley said. “We’ll also be listening to feedback from students and incorporating it into our discussions with the administration.”

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