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One Emerson: Getting Around Boston


As we prepare for the start of classes today and in-person classes on Wednesday, I wanted to address the topic of getting around in Boston. Whether you’re an off-campus student who will be commuting or a residential student who wants to explore a bit of this great city, you have options.

Boston is known as a great walking city, and there are lots of places you can access on foot. Even when walking — and especially when walking with friends — keep your face covering on and remember to socially distance. Many sidewalks around campus are wide and easily allow for two people to walk next to each other while still keeping 6 feet between them.

For longer distances, here is some transportation info with things to keep in mind during the pandemic.

Public Transit (MBTA)

Many off-campus students may find themselves riding Boston’s public transit system, the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority), which is commonly referred to as just “the T.” The system of buses, subways, commuter rails, and ferries service Boston itself, as well as the surrounding communities.

Reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission is, of course, of great importance on the T. It may be helpful to know that ridership on the T is currently much lower than typical levels because many Boston-area employees continue to work from home. The MBTA has put in place a number of precautions to protect the safety of riders and its employees. For more information, visit the MBTA Ride Safer page. A few items:

  • All riders and employees are required to wear face coverings.
  • Hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed at stations throughout the system.
  • Stations and vehicles are being cleaned and sanitized with increased frequency.
  • Crowding information can be found for some of the busier bus routes on the MBTA Transit app and on its website.
  • Bus operators have the option to bypass a stop if they feel the bus is becoming too crowded to safely accommodate more riders.
  • Some routes and lines are running modified service. For weekly service updates, check MBTA Coronavirus Updates or use their Transit app.

The MBTA encourages social distancing to the greatest extent possible while waiting for transit and while riding.

  • Try to choose a spot where you’re not directly facing someone or sitting right next to someone.
  • Sitting near a door or open window can provide increased ventilation, but please respect the priority seating reserved for those with special needs.
  • Avoid touching surfaces with your hands.
  • Eye protection, like goggles or face shields, can offer additional protection in crowded areas. Face shields used for eye protection do not replace the need for face coverings over nose and mouth.
  • If you need to cough or sneeze, do it into your elbow (not your hand) with your face covering on. (You should do this all the time, not just when on the T!)
  • Wash or sanitize your hands before and after leaving the T.

Many T stations have transit ambassadors in red shirts (not just during the pandemic). They’re there to help if you have questions or need guidance.

Discounted T Pass Pick-Up

If you ordered a discounted student T pass, it is now ready for pick-up during the times below:

Monday, August 31, 9:00 am-12:00 pm
Tuesday, September 1, 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Wednesday, September 2, 9:00 am-12:00 pm

You can pick up your pass at the Visitor Center at 104 Boylston Street. Note that this is a different location than in past semesters. The Visitor Center door will be shut and locked, but we will be there — just knock! Please be mindful that you may need to wait a moment inside if we are already helping another student. If there are multiple people waiting, please be mindful of social distancing.

Remember to bring your Emerson ID. If you have any questions, please contact Desiree Bradford at


Emerson offers two indoor secure spaces for bike parking.

The Boylston Place Bike Room at 19 Boylston Place offers spaces for 68 bikes. The Ansin Building Bike Parking Facility at 180 Tremont Street (first floor) has 11 spaces.

Use your Emerson ID to access the bike rooms. Space is available on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no need to register. Only non-motorized pedal bikes can be parked in these spaces per Massachusetts regulations. While the bike rooms are locked, Emerson College is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen bikes. Please lock your bike inside and use the facility at your own risk. Please take note of which spaces are reserved for daily use, and which for overnight storage.

If you are riding your bike around town, please wear a face covering. Once you get to Emerson, please catch your breath until your breathing has returned to normal; replace your face covering with a clean, dry one; and wash or sanitize your hands. Since respiratory droplets are the primary means of COVID-19 transmission, it is critical that your face covering be clean and dry. When riding or doing any form of exercise, your heavier breathing will soak your face covering quickly (even in cold weather), and has the potential to spread more droplets. Keep a spare face covering or two with you in a plastic bag at all times so that you always have a clean, dry one ready.

Parking Garages with Emerson Discount

If you’ll be driving to school, two garages offer discounted parking for Emerson students, faculty, and staff. You may find other garages in the vicinity; these are the two that have set special rates for Emersonians using the methods described below:

Boston Common Garage

  • $16 – Enter any time and park for up to 12 hours
  • Purchase online at Scan your way in/out of the facility from your smartphone using your prepaid QR code.
  • Garage entrance is on Charles Street, between Boylston and Beacon streets.

The Ritz Garage offers two options

The Freedom Pass

  • Park all day, any day, for $16
  • Receive a transponder pass to enter and exit the facility
  • Transponder is tied to your credit/debit card. You are billed per use.
  • Drive in and drive out using your pass at the gate. You do not need to visit a pay station or wait in line.?
  • To sign up, visit the Parking Office at the Ritz Garage, located on garage level B2. If walking in, entrance is at 6 Avery Street. If driving in, the garage entrance is at 47 Boylston Street.
  • Bring the credit/debit card you would like to use. The Ritz team will give you a transponder to enter and exit the facility.

Book online in advance:

  • Visit
  • Use Promo code “ParkEmerson” and book up to 10 hours for $16
  • Receive a barcode on your smartphone when you purchase
  • Scan in and out of the facility using your phone

    Contact Garage Manager Mohammad Qureshi with any questions about the Ritz Garage at or 617-574-7252.

Street Parking

If you’re driving, another option is to find street parking, although it can be hard to find around campus. Note that large orange traffic barrels have been set up around much of Boston Common to create temporary bike lanes. You can park outside the traffic barrels, but you must still pay the meter.

Make sure you’re parking in a legal space and observe the time limits. Parking is in demand downtown and city parking staff pay close attention to time limits. Most meters are active Monday through Saturday, from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. Most spaces are limited to two hours., but some meters allow for more time. Check the meter when you park. In addition to typical No Standing and No Parking signs, watch out for signs indicating Residential Permit Parking Only.

Parking meters generally accept quarters and credit cards, or you can use the ParkBoston app, which allows for touchless payment, in many downtown spaces. For more information about street parking, check out the City of Boston’s page on How Do Parking Meters Work?

Rideshare and Taxis

If you use a rideshare service or take a cab, wear a face covering in the vehicle. Wash or sanitize your hands immediately after exiting. If possible, ride with windows open for additional ventilation.

However you get to campus, we encourage you to wash or sanitize your hands immediately upon arrival. And of course — wear your face covering and maintain social distancing. Those three things are currently the strongest tools we have to reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

As a final reminder, Off-Campus Student Services is a resource for the whole Emerson community, and specifically offers programs and services for students living off campus now or preparing to move off campus in the future. Please feel free to contact them at or 617-824-8484.

Take care,
Jim Hoppe
Vice President and Dean for Campus Life

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