Red Line shuttle picks up passengers at UMass Lowell’s South Campus. (Courtesy of UMass Lowell)
With the termination of students living in East Meadow Lane apartments and the elimination of commuter parking in the Ayotte parking garage, big changes are coming to UMass Lowell transportation.
Beginning in the fall semester of 2017, transportation services will be eliminating the Green Line day service which originally transported students from East Meadow Lane apartments to North Campus and South Campus.
There is still uncertainty about the future of the night service, but transportation services is working to incorporate a shuttle system from East Campus to North Campus with an additional, undetermined stop to balance out the route.
For those who will still be residing in the neighborhood surrounding East Meadow Lane, transportation services assures that they will still be able to get to North and South campuses.
“Right now, the plan is to eliminate the green line from our operation. However, we have the new LRTA program, and there’s actually an LRTA bus stop right next to East Meadow Lane,” says administrative services director Nick Piscitello. “So any students who are living in that area will actually be able to take the bus to North Campus through the LRTA.”
In addition to these changes to the Green Line, there will be a change for incoming freshman and sophomore commuters who take the Purple Line as well. In past years, freshman and sophomore commuters utilized the Ayotte parking garage near the Tsongas Center. Beginning in fall 2017, however, commuters will begin parking at 1001 Pawtucket Blvd.
This is believed to be a win/win for commuter students, according to transportation. Ayotte parking garage is also shared with Lowell High School and many other businesses, which was making it harder for students to secure a parking spot.
In addition, since the garage is on the other side of the Merrimack River, the traffic the Purple Line was sitting through during certain times was so great that the bus route was ineffective for students. “I’m okay with not parking at the Tsongas anymore. It can be difficult to find a spot at times,” says freshman business major Nathan Klosowski.
This new route, however, is now on the same side of the river, which will help the shuttles avoid traffic and make the bus route more time efficient. Whether or not this will be more effective has yet to be determined. Freshman and sophomore students are weary that this change is actually beneficial.
“This lot seems like a last minute temporary solution,” says Klosowski. “It’s at least twice the distance from North Campus than South is.”
The Purple Line will still only go to North Campus, and transportation hopes to make North Campus more of a hub for commuter students by providing easier access to all other campuses and University Crossing.
“We used to park there three or four years ago. That was where our freshmen would park. Now we have this opportunity to go back there,” says Piscitello. He believes that this will greatly decrease the travel time for commuter students.
Aside from the Green and Purple Lines, the Red and Blue Lines may also change greatly in the upcoming year. Transportation services has been told that the Broadway canal bridge, that has been under construction for over three years, is expected to be completed in early fall 2017. With this completion, shuttle commutes to South Campus from North and East will most likely decrease.