The Boston Avenue shuttle has expanded its route to include stops at Whole Foods Market at 2151 Mystic Valley Parkway and the Mayer Campus Center this academic year.
According to Tufts Fleet/Transportation Manager Andrea Breault, the Whole Foods stop was added to provide students with another accessible option for purchasing food in addition to those on campus and in Davis Square.
Breault added that student groups on campus collaborated with her to make the shuttle changes happen.
“Meetings between myself and the undergraduate student Senate, as well as Tufts Recycles! took place over the last academic year to discuss improvements to the shuttle program,” Breault told the Daily in an email.
Breault said that Whole Foods was added to the Boston Avenue shuttle route in response to student need and because of the market’s proximity to the Tufts campus. She noted that the university promotes public transportation as a more sustainable way to help protect the environment, which is another reason the stop was included on the Boston Avenue shuttle route.
Tufts students have expressed varying opinions on the usefulness of the new Whole Foods stop.
Sophomore Sonja Hartmann, outreach coordinator for Tufts Urban Planning, Policy and Prosperity (UP3), believes that while the Whole Foods stop will provide students – especially those living off campus who shop for groceries more frequently – with access to an upscale supermarket that is a reasonable distance from campus, it could also slow down the shuttle’s pre-established route.
Hartmann noted that this could create problems for students trying to get to 200 Boston Avenue, which is home to Tufts Gordon Institute, or the Science and Technology Center (Sci-Tech) on 4 Colby Street, directly behind the 574 Boston Avenue stop.
UP3 President Jesse Litvin, a junior, believes that the addition of the Whole Foods stop and the Mayer Campus Center is beneficial; previously, Dowling Hall was the only stop on the Boston Avenue route between 574 Boston Avenue and Sci-Tech on the eastern end of the street and 200 Boston Avenue on the western end.
“That can be a trek to many places,” Litvin said.
Litvin added that the Whole Foods stop will benefit students living on campus who do not have meal plans and prefer to cook, as well as students living off campus who do not have their own vehicles.
According to Breault, the Mayer Campus Center stop was added to the Boston Avenue route in order to increase student access to a central part of campus when bringing groceries back. The stop would also serve as a means of creating an intersection between the Boston Avenue and Davis Square shuttles, she said.
The Boston Avenue shuttle runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with a schedule available on the Tufts Administrative Services website, Breault said.
Litvin also spoke about the travel opportunities that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) buses offer, as the MBTA bus 80 and 94 routes also go toward Whole Foods.
“While the Joey is good, I think the university could also benefit from spreading the news that students can take the buses,” Litvin said.
Students who have a Charlie Card can ride the bus for under 2 dollars, Litvin said. He believes more students should take advantage of the MBTA buses because they generally run more frequently than Tufts shuttles.
“Even getting to Davis, if you’re switching to the Red Line and you have a Charlie Card, it doesn’t cost you any extra to take the [MBTA] bus in than the Joey,” Litvin said.
Litvin acknowledged that Whole Foods is not necessarily the best place to buy groceries for those on a budget. While Tufts and Joseph’s Transportation used to provide a shuttle to the Stop & Shop at 105 Alewife Brook Parkway, a cheaper alternative to Whole Foods, this service is no longer offered.
“I came aboard in January of 2015 and I believe this particular route was eliminated before my time,” Breault wrote.
Nevertheless, the MBTA bus 89 route runs to Stop & Shop, which students can take from Powder House Square, according to Litvin.
Litvin noted that he would like to see more stops added to the Davis Square shuttle route as well, because while the shuttle passes his off-campus house, the two closest shuttle stops to him are each a 10-minute walk away.
Yet, he also recognized that this would mean increasing the shuttle’s route length.
“It’s an interesting problem that we’re looking at as far as balancing stops and speediness,” Litvin said.