July 20, 2019 | 96° F

DOTS encourages bicycling in open forum

Students expressed their concerns about the University’s transportation system last night at a forum at the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus.

Department of Transportation Services administrators, including director Jack Molenaar, fielded questions about existing problems and proposed changes to the system.

“We really want to concentrate on making the biking system more simple,” he said. “My goal would be for commuters to be able lock their bikes on the campus that they park at. That way they can keep their bike on one campus.”

Molenaar said he wants an increase in bicycle use with students traveling between campuses.

Cycling should be easier and more convenient for University students, especially commuters, he said.

Biking is the next phase for transportation at the University, said Jennifer Stuart, DOTS manager of Transportation Planning.

“We will be investigating for the rest of the semester and summer to see how the bike program works,” Stuart said. “The Department of Transportation Services sees bicycling as the future.”

DOTS wants to increase the amount of bike routes to help students get used to riding bikes, Stuart said.

“Knowing a bike system is here will encourage more people to ride bikes,” Stuart said.

Construction of a bike route is underway on Livingston campus to help with the student commute, Stuart said.

“We are encouraging biking and walking between Livingston and Busch [campuses],” she said.

University facilities agreed to build a small street between Joyce Kilmer and Rockafeller avenues, she said.

But the construction of the Livingston Apartments would make the effort more of a challenge, Molenaar said.

“Our biggest change [next year] will be the new housing on Livingston campus,” Molenaar said. “Enrollment will be the same but more people focused on Livingston.”

A DOTS online survey reflected student concern about campus-to-campus bus travel, particularly on the B route between Busch and Livingston campuses, Stuart said.     

The department already realizes the importance of the travel between Livingston and Busch campuses, Molenaar said.

“The B route is the most crucial route because Livingston and Busch run on the same class schedule,” Molenaar said.

Matt Kohut, a School of Engineering senior, said the accordion buses used for certain routes should be used more often because crowding.

“There should be more articulated buses for the B and F bus routes,” Kohut said.

But more articulated buses would contribute to gas costs for the department, Molenaar said.

Evan Finkelstein, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, said bus drivers should communicate more effectively with riders.

“Bus drivers should tell us when they are taking a break at bus stops,” Finkelstein said.

While students still have their concerns, this year’s transition to First Transit from Academy Bus is considered a success, Molenaar said.

Old and new bus drivers are obligated to stay on their route schedules because of the contract with First Transit. The clause mandates bus drivers arrive on time or their pay is docked, Molenaar said.

Many of the problems students have with DOTS cannot simply change because of personal problems, Molenaar said.

“I have to make it work for the whole system, not just some people,” he said. “Every small change I make has big ramifications.”

By Richard Conte

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