Every Housing Day, freshmen inevitably bemoan being sorted into the Radcliffe Quadrangle, often citing the distance between the Quad, the Yard, and the River Houses as a main source of their discontentment. While shuttles travel between the Quad and locations across campus relatively frequently, location-based discontentment with the Quad persists.
But a new pilot project is aimed at making living in the Quad more convenient. Recently, Pforzheimer House resident William B. Keith ’16 organized an initiative to pilot a new Quad-Harvard Yard shuttle route. The route passes exclusively between the Quad and the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Garden Street, allowing the bus to travel back and forth in 10 minutes, compared with the 20 minutes that the existing Quad Express shuttle takes to make the trip due to a stop at Memorial Hall. This shorter trip is certainly a welcome addition for residents of the Quad.
We are glad to see the implementation of the pilot project and hope that it leads to the permanent institution of the new route. The ability to consistently travel between the Yard and the Quad quickly and efficiently also has the potential to improve the community in the Quad, with students more easily able to return for lunch during the academic day. In addition, we should note that this change will also allow freshmen and residents of the River Houses to get to know the Quad, an opportunity we hope they take full advantage of.
This new shuttle service also works to the advantage of students who require accessible transportation. While the buses are all technically wheelchair accessible, more direct service means that buses will be less crowded and that students can move between the Quad and the Yard more easily.
When Keith surveyed students to test their level of support last August, he found that approximately 96 percent of the more than 300 respondents were in favor of the shorter route. “This particular route isn’t going to cost more, money-wise, but it’s something that shuttle drivers have to adjust to,” Keith said. Given the extensive student support and the ability to provide the service at no new cost, the implementation of the additional route simply makes sense.
Though we fully support this change, it should not lead to any changes in the dining accommodations Quad students receive on the River. While Quad residents will be able to get back to their House dining halls more quickly, many will still need to stay in the area of the Yard and the River for lunch and dinner.
Beyond its potential to create a small but meaningful change in the lives of students, this effort is also an excellent example of the University listening to student requests and taking action in conjunction with advocacy and initiative from the Undergraduate Council. While occasional hiccups occur in the relationship between the UC and the University—like the recent confusion over the timing of the implementation of the new HarvardKey security system—communication between the two can lead to creative ideas. We hope to see regular Quad shuttle trips along this new route, and more cooperation on similar projects, soon.