CAMBRIDGE—It’s not a 21st century version of “Further,” the psychedelic bus outfitted by Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters as a symbol of the hippie movement in the 1960s.
But the Biogen Idec Coach, a commuter bus that this week began shuttling employees from the Worcester and Framingham areas to the drug maker’s campus in Kendall Square, may become another kind of symbol: of a company determined to remain rooted in the famous Cambridge biopharmaceutical cluster even if it means coping with worsening traffic congestion.
Biogen Idec Inc., the largest biotech based in Massachusetts, is expanding its local campus to seven buildings housing 2,800 employees. Just before Thanksgiving, the company is expected to move corporate headquarters back to Cambridge after three years in suburban Weston, reuniting its executive team with their research and manufacturing colleagues.
“It will be nice to have everyone in Cambridge,” said Biogen Idec chief executive George Scangos. “Cambridge is such a good place to do research and development. We have an increasing number of academic collaborations here. And it’s important that we’re in one place.”
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get do, especially from the suburbs at a time when the Longfellow Bridge closing figures to aggravate traffic in and out of Cambridge for years. Biogen Idec inaugurated the coach—also called the “disco bus” because of its bright green and blue colors and the “BIIB bus” after the company’s stock symbol—on the western route. But it plans to add other routes originating elsewhere in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
The bus has 48 seats and is equipped with wireless Internet connectivity and coffee, along with work trays for laptops, individual headset jacks, and plug-ins for charging mobile phones and electronic devices. It also has one cardinal rule, reinforced in a video featuring Biogen Idec chief financial officer Paul J. Clancy yakking loudly on not one but two cell phones.
Biogen Idec’s rule: Talk quietly. Fellow employees may be working.