Allston and beyond

Late night bus offers students ride home

by Frankie Olito / Beacon Staff • February 2, 2012

Six party-craving Emerson students made an attempt to avoid the hassle of public transportation and the frigid winter air standing in front of the Gypsy Bar on Boylston Street two Fridays ago, in search of a more original way to start their night. 

As the mysterious coach bus pulled up to the curb, the group said they remember feeling curious yet excited. A man stepped off the bus, holding a sign, reading, “Boston Nightlife Express.” 

“At first it seemed sketch, but it was really nice and fun,” Renée Safir, a junior visual and media arts major said.

The Boston Nightlife Express is a coach bus that brings students from Emerson’s campus to Allston and Boston University’s West Campus every Friday night.

Safir and her friend, Rose Chirillo, a junior marketing communication major, were part of the first Emerson group to ride the Boston Nightlife Express to a party in Allston.They said they decided to try it because the T would have been too crowded, and they thought riding the bus could be an interesting experience. 

“They blast really loud music, and it takes so much less time to get there,” Chirillo said. “And you don’t have to go on a crowded T, so it helped me get pumped.”

Safir agreed the bus has a certain atmosphere.

“It had a party bus feel. It was fun. You can stand up, eat, dance,” Safir said.

As of now, the bus has two outbound routes at 10:40 p.m. and 11:40 p.m. at a rate of $3. There is one inbound bus at 1:40 a.m. at the rate of $5. The bus picks up students in front of the Gypsy bar at 116 Boylston Street, and drops them off at the corner of Harvard and Commonwealth in Allston.

Ryan Kaplan, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate, said he started the business with his two friends after winning a project in his entrepreneurship class.

Kaplan said the idea was to create a type of transportation that eliminated the complications of taking the T and taxi service. With the T closing at 12:30 a.m. on weekends and taxi fares between Allston and Back Bay estimated at $15, students often struggle getting to and from campus.

“We are addressing needs that are not being addressed on weekends,” Kaplan said.

The plan originally kicked off in October, bringing Boston University students to downtown Boston on a rented bus from a private business. However, two weeks ago, Kaplan expanded his business, adding Emerson College to its route.

Kanika Misra, an Emerson sophomore marketing communication major played a part in bringing the shuttle to Boylston street. She said she discovered the business online and contacted Kaplan. The two then devised a plan to incorporate the Boston Nightlife Express into Emerson campus life.

“People on campus tend to go off-campus for parties, while 21 and over tend to come in for bars,” Misra said. “Plus, with MBTA cuts, we are trying to find a better option.”

The company has expanded to Endicott College in Beverly, Mass., and hopes to expand service to Thursday and Saturday nights as well, according to Kaplan.

Misra said she earns a certain percentage of the Emerson sales. Meanwhile, Kaplan said there is a more important gain.

“There is gratification in fixing a problem I had to deal with for four years,” Kaplan said.

Misra said there are many benefits to having the bus accessible for students.

“The cab from Allston is $15 to $20, so kids don’t need to worry about paying for a cab,” she said, “and you are guaranteed a seat.”

The bus can hold close to 50 people at a time, according to Misra. On its first run two weeks ago, six students took the outbound ride, while fifteen took the inbound, according to Kaplan. 

“We are happy with the Emerson turn out so far,” Kaplan said. “We are doing well, and it’s growing. We expect a bigger showing.”

Safir and Chirillo both said it would have been more fun with a larger group.

Drawing more students to the bus is Kaplan and Misra’s main goal. Recently, Misra began social media and direct marketing for the business by putting fliers under dorm room doors.

“It involved grassroots marketing. Right now I am trying to build a presence because it is very, very new,” Misra said.

Kaplan sees a similar goal.

“Our goal is to make it a habit for everyone’s night,” Kaplan said. “We want to make [The Boston Nightlife Express] a staple on the Boston scene for college students.”