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Mayor Walsh, BPS, MBTA share student safety plans

September 3, 2014

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

Today Mayor Martin J. Walsh will join Boston Public Schools Interim Superintendent John McDonough and MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott at Maverick Station in East Boston to kick off safe, free, expanded school-year transportation service for Boston students in grades 8-12.

“Our schools, public safety agencies, and community partners have teamed up with the MBTA to ensure every student has a safe, on-time trip to school this fall,” Mayor Walsh said. “Even though thousands of students have taken the MBTA every day for years, this is the first year that we have coordinated so many resources to focus on student safety. Starting on Day One, students will see our teams in bright blue vests ready to help them ride the T and get to school safely and on time.”

At the request of the Boston School Committee, this spring, BPS launched a community effort that brought safety teams to every middle school to focus on improving safety for students who walk to school, take the T, or ride a school bus.

  • BPS and community safety teams visited every middle and K-8 school (38 in total) and walked with students to and from school to study the routes they take and the challenges they can encounter along the way. Safety teams then coordinated efforts to improve crosswalks, signage, sidewalks, and other public safety initiatives with detailed “walking assessments,” customized for each school.
  • Boston Police, Boston School Police, and the MBTA Transit Police coordinated resources and training this summer to support student safety.
  • The StopWatch Program will be present at designated locations on the MBTA to assist in making the transition successful all students. The StopWatch Program is made up of youth advocacy agencies including the Boston Center for Youth and Families, StreetSafe, Suffolk Juvenile Probation, City Year members, Clergy, MBTA and City of Boston Transportation officials as well as school officials and law enforcement officers.
  • More than 50 BPS staff wearing blue vests and additional City Year members in red jackets will be “safety ambassadors” at key MBTA hubs in September. These teams will assist students and help answer questions. Locations include Forest Hills, Fields Corner, JFK/UMass, Bunker Hill, Maverick, Tufts Medical, Sullivan Square stations and other major student transit hubs.
  • BPS yellow buses will offer shuttle services connecting some schools to key MBTA locations, including Forest Hills, Mattapan Square, Ruggles, Fields Corner, Ashmont, Maverick, Sullivan Square and Andrew. Through more than 70 shuttle routes BPS will help reduce reliance on local MBTA buses in the morning and afternoon.

This initiative supports the expansion of existing MBTA service to approximately 2,100 8th grade students this fall. In prior years more than 15,000 students in grades 9-12 and an additional 1,800 students in grades 7 and 8 already received MBTA passes instead of yellow bus service. Boston Public Schools provides transportation services to Boston Public, charter, private and parochial schools.

This year the MBTA also worked with BPS to expand the existing five-day student pass to a seven-day pass, which is good from September to June. Students who qualify for transportation in grades 8-12 will receive their pass on the first day of school. Parents of students in grades 6 and 7 who currently ride yellow buses can request the free pass as well, which would then replace a yellow bus.

“An MBTA pass offers students the flexibility to get to school earlier and participate in after-school activities without relying on a yellow bus schedule,” said MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott. “We are proud of our record bringing more than 15,000 students in Boston to and from school safely every day and are looking forward to the opportunity to serve even more students this year as we expand our focus on safety and service.”

Students with disabilities who receive yellow bus service as part of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will continue to ride yellow school buses in all grades.

“We will work closely with the community this fall to make sure the additional students riding the T this year have a safe experience,” said BPS Interim Superintendent John McDonough. “This process has brought a significant level of commitment and cooperation this spring and summer. Now, as we begin the school year, this expansion allows us to offer more students the flexibility to participate in after-school activities along with the free seven-day pass they have long asked for.”

Families with questions about the MBTA pass program or transportation service in general can call the BPS Transportation Hotline at (617) 635-9520. Parents with specific concerns about student safety on the MBTA can also call the Hotline to request a wavier.

Here are tips for parents and students to help prepare to ride the MBTA to school this year:

  1. Visit your school’s website and the MBTA trip planner at http://www.mbta.com/rider_tools/trip_planner/ to find the best route from home to school and back.
  2. Find several different options to get to school using various buses and subway trains.
  3. Learn how often key buses run so you can have flexibility in your schedule.
  4. The MBTA will be free on the first day of school so students can pick up their MBTA pass in class.