Then & Now: Inter-college Transportation



1968 was a year of change for the Five College system. Hampshire College had been founded three years previously and was preparing to open its doors to students in 1970. There were several meetings to establish the details of the Five College Consortium, and the intercollegiate bus system was often a topic of conversation at these meetings.

Previously, nine-passenger vans (pictured, top) had shuttled students between the colleges. As inter-college cooperation picked up, however, it became clear that the small shuttles were not adequate to meet the needs of students who were taking classes and participating in activities on other campuses.

It was decided the vans would be supplemented with larger chartered buses, subsidized by the now five colleges’ student government associations and minimal student fees.

The buses ran from Mount Holyoke to Amherst College to UMass and back, leaving Mount Holyoke approximately every hour on the hour during the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Evening buses operated seven days a week. There was no bus that ran between Smith and Mount Holyoke; students wishing to travel between the two women’s colleges had to transfer lines.

The loading point was the south side of Mead Hall, and the bus did not make any other stops on campus unless, according to the Five College Information Handbook, “specific exceptional arrangements have been made in advance.”


When students want to leave campus they board the PVTA (Pioneer Valley Transit Authority), the largest regional transit authority in Massachusetts.

Instead of saying each letter “P-V-T-A,” Mount Holyoke students refer to the bus as “The Piv-Ta.”

Ten of the current fleet of PVTA buses are hybrid vehicles with diesel-electric propulsion to reduce greenhouse gases.

There are two lines that stop on the Mount Holyoke campus. The 39 line runs between Mount Holyoke and Smith, stopping at Hampshire, Atkins Farm, and several places in Northampton along the way. The 38 line runs from Mount Holyoke to UMass and back again, making stops at Hampshire and Amherst College.

Buses no longer stop at Mead; The PVTA’s main campus stop is on Lower Lake Road, near Blanchard. It also stops other places on campus, such as on Park Street across from Torrey Hall, near the Art Building on Lower Lake Road, near South Rockefeller Hall on Chapin Road, and on College Street, across from Pearsons.

—By Olivia Lammel ’14

This article appeared in the fall 2014 issue of the Alumnae Quarterly.

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2 responses to “Then & Now: Inter-college Transportation”

  1. Lisa Halliday '79 says:

    During my years at MHC, there was an hourly van to Smith and an hourly bus to Hampshire, Amherst and UMass. There was only one stop at each school. UMass had a free bus to Hampshire Mall, so we used to go there on the Five College bus on weekends and catch the bus from there to the mall. I took courses at all four other schools and I have to say the Five College buses always served me well.

  2. Jennie Berkson '76 says:

    There was a van which went directly from MHC to Smith in the 1974-1975 school year. I was one of the drivers of this van. It paid really well and got me connected to the Five College Student Coordinating Board which I joined as an officer. That was a good experience. The van had only an AM radio and so whatever awful pop music was broadcast at the time is forever associated in my memory with those drives (“Muskrat Love,” “(She’s) Having My Baby” anyone?)

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