This portion of the Amherst History Mural by David Fichter (2005; demolished 2016; in the process of being recreated 2019) in the 1730 West Cemetery references the trolley car line that served Amherst from 1897 through the mid-twentieth century. Deliberately and playfully anachronistic, it juxtaposes people of differing periods and social classes. At the rear of the car are two authors: Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864), professor of natural theology and geology and Amherst College President, and his wife, educator and artist Orra White Hitchcock, (1796-1863), intellectual as well as romantic partners who together explored the world of nature.
The trolley car line succumbed to the popularity of the bus and personal auto. Today, of course, we would kill to get back this sustainable and convenient “light rail” of the sort we enjoyed in SHARP Minneapolis 2007 and SHARP Sydney 2018. Lesson learned too late (always the case), but here we are.
A Walkable Downtown
Fortunately, getting around downtown Amherst is not too difficult. The town is long and narrow, its compact, walkable commercial and cultural core reflecting the early history of the community, which developed along the colonial royal highways running north-south. The historical evolution resulted in a series of “village centers” separated by open space, whose preservation modern conservation policy has enshrined in public law.
The University of Massachusetts lies just slightly to the northwest of the core area, now officially designated the Amherst Center Cultural District. Amherst College is located at the southern end.
UMass conference venues to edge of downtown: 0.7 miles / 1.1 km
UMass conference venues to center of downtown: 1.1 miles / 1.8 km
UMass conference venues to center of Amherst College campus: 1.6 miles/ 2.6 km
The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) provides public bus transportation within Amherst and to neighboring communities. During the academic year, free bus service connects the institutions of the Five College Consortium. Service is less frequent during the summer. In addition, PVTA has been revising its schedules in light of recent budget shortfalls. (Please check this page for updates as we approach the conference date.)
Download the PVTA “myStop” bus tracker mobile app
The University of Massachusetts
- The Campus Center Parking Garage, adjacent to conference venues
- Robsham Visitor’s Center, circa 0.6 miles / 1 km to most conference venues (parking meters)
- There are also smaller areas of metered parking at several other locations on campus
Participants staying at the Campus Center Hotel receive complimentary parking in the garage.
Enter the Campus Center Parking Garage (B3 on map). Get a ticket on the way in and park on the 2nd Level of the garage. Then walk into the concourse via the hallway and take the elevators to the 3rd level (Hotel Lobby).
Parking is included in your room rate. Upon check-in you will receive a pass for one car that allows you to park up until 5 pm on the day of your departure. If you misplace the parking pass there is a $5 per day fee to replace it. For each additional car, it will be an extra $5 per day. Certain group rates do not include complimentary parking. Please contact the Hotel Main Desk, 877-822-2100, if you are unsure.
North Apartments residents should receive a parking permit for a nearby surface lot upon registration (Building A, Main Lobby).
Participants not staying in UMass campus housing:
The University will provide other SHARPists with a discounted parking pass for the Campus Center Parking Garage (B3 on map), the closest parking to the conference venues, for $6.50 per day. You will use the card at the pay station when you leave.
[There may also be free parking (but requiring a permit, which we can obtain for you) in various University surface parking lots. We are awaiting updates due to construction work on campus.]
Feel free to contact us in advance about a discounted pass for the parking garage if you know you will have a car here, and we will have it waiting for you at registration. Otherwise, just inquire at the registration desk when you arrive.
Metered parking in standard UMass lots accepts coins or the Parkmobile smartphone app. Metered parking at Robsham Visitor Center accepts coins, debit or credit cards, and payment via the Parkmobile smartphone app.
The Parkmobile app is free (you simply have to link it to a debit or credit card) and obviates the need to hunt for pocket change or run out to add coins to the meter (how it works).
Town of Amherst
Both the University of Massachusetts and Town of Amherst parking meters allow you to pay (and later add time remotely) via the Parkmobile smartphone app. The app is free (you simply have to link it to a debit or credit card) and obviates the need to hunt for pocket change or run out to add coins to the meter (how it works).
Taxis, Uber, Lyft
Amherst currently has no licensed local taxi services, though a quick search via Google or travel rating services such as Yelp will provide guidance to firms serving the area.
Taxi firms have declined in part because of the growing popularity–and here, indeed, ubiquity–of Uber and Lyft. In addition, there is the Ridebuzz rideshare service.
The Boston Globe calls the Pioneer Valley “a haven for cyclists.” At the end of the nineteenth century, the “Wheelmen of the Town of Amherst” signed an agreement with residents, promising to use the sidewalks for bicycling “with due respect to the rights of pedestrians.” In the twenty-first century, Amherst is implementing a multimodal “complete streets” policy to ensure that transportation and infrastructure planning fully accommodates not only automobiles, but also cycling, walking, and public transportation.
In summer 2018, Amherst launched its segment of the regional bikeshare system. These bikes provide a convenient way to travel within town or to neighboring towns or just enjoy the recreational cycling trails of the area such as the popular Norwottuck Rail Trail.
Participants may rent “electric pedal assist” bicycles with GPS at one of four stations in town (two in the downtown core) or five stations on the University of Massachusetts campus. (Please check this page for updates as the conference approaches.)
Joining and using
Download the app