Flyby Appreciates: The Overnight Shuttle Drivers
Let’s set the scene: It’s almost midnight, and you just left a club meeting. God knows why they’re scheduled that late anyways, but you happen to be in the Quad and live in Leverett House. The walk — which during the day is a grand old time enjoying the nature of Cambridge Common and scientifically has been proven to reduce stress — looks very different at night.
Alternatively: It’s a Saturday night, and you’ve just left a dorm at 2:17 a.m. The Evening Van has just stopped running for the evening. The Massachusetts weather doesn’t help the situation, especially as winter kicks into gear. What is a Harvard student to do?
Come to the rescue: the Overnight Shuttle Drivers <3
For all the quadlings across campus or those of us staying out late for academic and ~non-academic~ purposes alike, the shuttle has become a staple of our Harvard experiences. We’ve learned to navigate the morning rush and walk the afternoon desert in the heat of late August. But at night is when the overnight shuttle drivers go nocturnal for our own safety and comfort.
With the overnight service running from around 12-4 a.m., they drive a loop around Harvard’s campus from the Quad to the Law School to the Yard and back again for hours on end. They carry their own snacks and coffee to keep them energized through the night. And after a certain hour, access to bathrooms drops as places like Smith close up for the night. The overnight drivers make sacrifices in their comfort and their operating hours, becoming practically nocturnal, to keep our community running at all hours.
Hopping on the shuttle one of the first weeks of class, one overnight shuttle driver checked in on how my classes were going. He’d seen me on the overnight a few times that week. We started chatting and lo-and-behold, we were born at the same hospital – granted a good 50 years apart! Our conversations range from club drama to UMiami college football to Harvard’s Outings and Innings, but it’s a friendship.
Fellow Flyby writer Kelsey J. Griffin and another overnight shuttle driver always chat about U.S. history. Last I heard, they were in the New Deal Era.
The overnight shuttle drivers, as selfless as they are, are incredibly interesting people with lives outside their Harvard shifts. Some have family across the U.S. and will tell stories about visiting their nieces and nephews. Others have pipe-dreams of being history teachers. Across the board, they’re truly wonderful people in and out of their nights spent looking out for Harvard’s night owl population.
Winter is coming. You’ll find yourself opening up Passio GO! more than you’d like. But if you’re hopping on a late night shuttle, check in on your shuttle driver. How was their day? What are they interested in? What radio station do they always play?
And when you hop off, make sure to say thank you!
We love you, Overnight Shuttle Drivers<3