MBTA Green Line Pilot Program for SMFA and NEC Transportation


We know transportation between the SMFA campus, the NEC campus, and the Medford/Somerville campus can be challenging. The Student Affairs team and the Parking and Transportation Office have been exploring solutions to make moving between campuses more convenient. Last month, the MBTA opened a new Green Line E branch extension. The newly opened stations put the SMFA, NEC, and Medford/Somerville campuses on the same Green Line branch making it possible to travel between these campuses without changing lines or riding a bus.  

What is the pilot program?  

We are interested in understanding student experience using either the Green Line and the SMFA shuttle. To that end, we are launching a program to get student feedback on how these transportation modes compare. Differences between the T and the shuttle that might impact the overall student experience that we are interested in include:  

  • Hours of operation: The Green Line E branch operates from 4:47 a.m. to 12:25 a.m. daily whereas the shuttle operates from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday during the semester.  

  • Frequency of service: A Green Line train comes to each stop about every 6 to 12 minutes, on average, whereas the SMFA shuttle comes to each pickup location once every 45 minutes, on average. 

  • Speed of trip: The Green Line extension is new, so we don’t have data about how long trips may take, but the MBTA estimates it will be about 44 minutes. The Green Line E branch does not have to combat traffic.  On average, the SMFA shuttle takes 30 to 45 minutes. 

  • Capacity and user experience: Green Line cars are open to the public and we hope to measure if students have challenges getting on a green line during peak travel periods through the pilot program.  

  • Accessibility: Both the Green Line and the shuttle are accessible for wheelchair users and people with other mobility needs, but the mechanisms are somewhat different.  

  • Users: The Tufts shuttle is private and only open to Tufts students, faculty, and staff whereas the Green Line is open to the public.  

  • Drop off points: The shuttle offers door-to-door service whereas the Green Line stations require brief walks after disembarking the train.  

How will the pilot program work?  

Participants selected into the pilot program are issued a MBTA Monthly LinkPass for the duration of the spring 2023 term starting in mid-January. The LinkPass: 

  • is good for unlimited rides on all MBTA bus and rail lines, free of charge (excluding commuter rail and ferry service).    

  • can be used for any purpose, whether connected to Tufts or not—traveling between campuses, experiencing the city, running errands, and seeing friends.    

  • is funded by Tufts and provided to participants at no cost.    

  • may be used only by the participant in the program and is not transferrable to anyone else. 

Participants will be required to track their use of the MBTA, the shuttle, and other modes of transportation for the duration of the semester and will report their experiences weekly.  At the end of the program, Student Affairs and Parking and Transportation will evaluate participant self-reports, LinkPass usage data, and shuttle ridership to inform transportation planning decisions for academic year 2023–2024.  

What will participation involve?  

Randomly selected students who agree to participate will have the following responsibilities:  

  • Attend participant orientation on Friday, January 20 at noon via Zoom.  

  • Consent to having LinkPass use data shared with Tufts.  All data will be anonymized and aggregated, and will only be used for the purpose of assessing the success of the pilot program and informing further transportation program decisions.  

  • Complete a weekly report documenting your transportation choices and experiences each Friday.  

  • Complete a final participant survey in May.  

  • Participate in a focus group meeting at the end of the end of the semester. There will be 2 to 3 dates offered and you will have the option to choose one that fits with your schedule.  

How are people selected for this pilot program?

Full time BFA, SMFA combined degree BFA and BS/BA, and combined degree Tufts/NEC students enrolled in spring 2023 courses are eligible. From the list of eligible students, 50 participants were selected at random and invited to participate in the pilot program. 

The random sample includes students of all undergraduate class years, all income levels, and all residency types, living:    

  • On the Medford/Somerville campus;   

  • In the Beacon Street residence halls; or   

  • Off campus.  

Who do I contact if I have questions or concerns about this pilot program? 

Please reach out to Stephen Green (Associate Director of SMFA Student Affairs) at stephen.green@tufts.edu if you have questions or concerns.