29 Jul A New Way to Get Around
Minute Man National Historical Park spans three towns, Lincoln, Concord, and Lexington. The towns are connected by two lane roads and a part of the Boston metropolitan area. This means that enjoying the Minute Man park without having to worry about traffic and parking is difficult. Even more difficult and challenging is getting to the park from the local train station in Concord which brings you in from the Western town of Wachusett or Boston to the East. I previously mentioned that bicycles are allowed on the Minute Man Trail, but most people are not comfortable biking on non-protected lanes and shared roads. Riding on the local roads is required to arrive to the park. The three towns have been working together for over a year to launch a shuttle that would allow people to hop on and off on their own schedule and move through the park and surrounding historic and tourist attractions. While the towns are moving through a process of securing funds from the federal government to support such a transit option, the Town of Concord was able to launch a trial shuttle for summer of 2022!
The shuttle began running Friday, July 1st. I had the opportunity to be a part of a stakeholder conversation alongside park ranger Jennifer Pierce and other local site leaders. The shuttle transports people at no cost through the town of Concord stopping at the Concord Visitor Center, Concord Museum, Louisa May Alcott Home, Meriam’s Corner, the North Bridge Visitor Center, and North Bridge lower parking lot where people can also access the Manse.
Until beginning the internship with the National Park Service, I did not think about the potential, importance, and significance of a town shuttle. There are many reasons that a shuttle, whether free or low-cost, is an essential component of a successful local economy and the experience of a town. The shuttle brings environmental and economic benefits and makes inaccessible places to people without vehicles more accessible. Without a shuttle, the Minute Man National Historical Park is predominantly for people with a vehicle or people that are extremely comfortable with shared road cycling and good physical condition. Not even a shared ride, Uber or Lyft, can easily pick you up and drop you off in the park premise.
The park and town alike are excited about this new offering and looking forward to learning from the shuttle trial run. The dream of having a shuttle that began over a year ago is coming to fruition slowly, but surely. Planning in a sustainable manner takes time due to research, community involvement, and finances. Even though I am stepping into the process about halfway through, the process of getting a new transportation mode off the ground for the communities has brought to life some of these planning lessons for me. Many years ago getting the commuter rail system the goes around option was a vision and dream for some. Today, a shuttle through the towns is the new vision and dream. I hope that it will be one that is well-funded, promoted, inclusive, and accessible.