Free the T

When I first toured Tufts, the view from the library roof made me want to come here. It sounds shallow, but it’s true. I had finished my informal look at campus and was heading back to my car when I decided to stop on what I would come to know as the best spot at Tufts. From there, I could pick out the familiar Boston landmarks. It was getting dark, and over the distance, it looked like some modernist holiday display: towers strung with lights, pushing up against the darkened sky. It’s still a point of pride for me that I can take my out-of-towner friends up there and give them a visual tour of the city from afar, saying to them, “We can go there, soon.”

There’s a subtle trick at play in that phrasing, though. We are able to go there, in a loose sense. We are able to wait for the Joey or trek down to the Davis Square T stop; we are able to sit on the train, take it all the way across the river. But we can only do all those things if we have the time, the money and the will required to put the easy campus entertainment aside and burst the infamous “Tufts bubble.” As much as I hate to admit it, up on the Tisch Library roof, there are significant barriers between pointing at Boston from afar and actually going there.

This is, of course, a shame. Boston, for all its petty provincialism and much-maligned early bedtime (the T shuts down at 1 a.m. on the weekdays), is a beautiful, vibrant city. It is worth pointing out that there are over 250,000 college students in Boston and Cambridge alone; that count doesn’t include geographical outliers like Tufts, or Boston College or the schools connected to Boston by commuter rail. It is essentially a mega-sized college town, with all the wonderful weirdness that entails. With this many students in one relatively small area, there will never be a shortage of culture, entertainment or fun ways to waste time. The only problem for Tufts students is getting there.

This is the reason that I support bringing the U-Pass program to Tufts, and why I joined the Tufts Transit Coalition: to make that goal a reality. There are countless reasons to support the program: Using public transportation is environmentally friendly, an influx of students into Boston would encourage the T to stay open later, the increased T revenues from wide adoption of the U-Pass could lead to a similar program for local high schools, thus increasing opportunity for those students … the list of benefits goes on and on.

For me, though, the most important thing is that the U-Pass would make Boston accessible. A university-subsidized pass providing unlimited T rides at a deeply discounted price would allow every Tufts student freedom of movement. Freshmen like me would be able to expand and enrich our college experience immeasurably with such a program. Instead of standing on the Tisch roof, pointing at places we may never be able to visit, my friends and I could stand there and make plans.

This reason — simple freedom to expand my world — is why I support the TTC and U-Pass. You may not share my reasons, and I don’t expect you to. The other TTC members and I don’t even expect you to immediately jump on our bandwagon. There are so many reasons to support this program — I haven’t yet been to a meeting of the group where two people voiced the exact same motivations for their support. Ask me questions, if you want. Ask any one of us questions.

We’ve been lucky to see such strong support from the Tufts community so far, including from newly elected TCU President Robert Joseph. However, ceasing our efforts now won’t help anyone. So, keep the U-Pass in mind over the summer and into the fall. I ask you simply to think over the reasons to free the T and open up the city. To sit on the doorstep of a city like Boston is a wondrous thing. Why would we not knock and enter?

 

Jamie Moore is a freshman who has not yet declared a major. He is a member of Tufts Transit Coalition. He can be reached at Jameson.Moore@tufts.edu.

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