Case Study: How MassTLC Rallied Technology Leaders to Help North Shore Community College Overcome its Transportation Challenge

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MassTLC CEO Tom Hopcroft with Entrepreneur & Angel Investor David Chang as "rider zero" for uberpool Boston launch in 2015

A Powerful Collaboration

North Shore Community College (NSCC) students often struggle to find affordable transportation to the Danvers Campus because the nearest bus lines end 4.2 miles away. Working with NSCC President Patricia Gentile, MassTLC CEO Tom Hopcroft facilitated a partnership between NSCC and Uber to develop a unique pilot program offering reduced-fare rides to students traveling between NSCC’s Danvers campus and public transportation stations.

Background

North Shore Community College (NSCC)—which has campuses in Danvers, Lynn, and Middleton—educates approximately 10,500 students a year. With no public transportation options on the Danvers Campus, students often struggle to get to campus:

  • The nearest bus lines end 4.2 miles away across two major highways and are not safely walkable.
  • According to a NSCC study, an estimated 11% of students do not have a car. White student car ownership is at 93%—15% greater than that of African American students at 78%. Asian and Hispanic students own cars at 80% and 83% respectively.

Situation

The lack of public transportation on NSCC’s Danvers Campus has a disproportionately negative impact on lower income and minority students, which consequently impacts the local labor market. To help meet the need, NSCC President Patricia Gentile came before the Fiscal & Administrative Affairs Committee of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, which is chaired by MassTLC CEO Tom Hopcroft, to make the case for the extension of an MBTA bus line from Liberty Tree Mall to the Danvers Campus.

Solution

Recognizing the uphill battle President Gentile faced with getting an MBTA bus route extended to the school and the urgent need to help students access affordable education, Hopcroft suggested that there may be a more agile solution to the problem. After considering potential tech companies that might help, Hopcroft made an initial pitch to Uber Boston General Manager Chris Taylor about the possibility of addressing the “last mile” transportation challenge with Uber’s innovative ride-sharing service.

Over the next few months, NSCC and Uber worked together to develop a unique pilot program offering reduced-fare rides to students traveling between NSCC’s Danvers campus and public transportation stations. In addition to addressing the transportation challenge, Uber’s data driven approach will help NSCC generate better student demand data which could be used for future public transit planning.

About MassTLC

As the region’s largest technology trade association, the Mass Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) is dedicated to accelerating innovation and growth in Massachusetts. We do this by facilitating connections among technology companies and between industry, academia and the public sector. Through our Education Foundation, we are committed to providing students with the opportunities they need to build the skills necessary to participate in 21st century careers.