Department addresses transportation issues
University community members had the chance to voice their questions, thoughts and concerns about the University’s transportation system yesterday at its annual forum.
The forum, which took place in the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus, covered issues such as parking, biking and bus routes.
Jack Molenaar, the director of the Department of Transportation Services, said this year’s forum was the most successful because of its location in the Rutgers Student Center’s atrium, where many students congregate.
“Now we have lots more people participating — and it’s more interactive,” he said. “It’s a success that I’m very happy about, since the goal was to reach out to more people.”
Molenaar said during the forums, students typically ask questions such as why parking is restricted to the campus indicated on the permit, and the issue of the University having a shortage of buses. Students frequently ask why the express buses stop on certain places but not others.
“Students have asked why the REXB bus does not stop at Busch Campus Center, and the REXL does not stop at the Quads,” he said. “I’ve answered that express buses are only supposed to make academic stops, and last time I checked, these two stops are not academic.”
Molenaar also said students can only park on the campus written on their parking permits so traveling between campuses is smoother.
“If we allowed students to park anywhere they chose around campus, there would be lots more traffic, and it would be harder to get to class on time, since everybody would be moving everywhere,” he said.
Raffi Mark, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said he attended the forum to address a concern he had about commuting late at night from Douglass campus.
“When you have classes that do not end until after 10 p.m., you are forced to take the EE bus route to the College Avenue campus, since the F bus stops running by then,” he said. “As a result, it takes 30 to 40 minutes to get from Cook/Douglass campus to College Avenue.”
Mark also said he hoped to find out the Department of Transportation’s logic behind this policy.
“I’m pretty sure this was thought through [when first put in place],” he said. “That said, I also want to know that students’ concerns are being heard.
Claudia Medina, a School of Engineering senior, said she went to the forum to voice her concerns about the B bus route, which goes from Livingston to Busch campus.
Medina said she wanted to understand why the University does not provide more B buses. Medina said DOTS told her adding more B buses is too costly, and instead students should bike between Livingston and Busch campuses.
Medina said this was good in general, but that it would not be practical all of the time.
“When it’s not winter, biking is a good solution — but not when it’s freezing cold and/or snowing,” she said.
John Stevenson, the program coordinator at DOTS who specializes in biking routes, said biking can help improve the University transportation system. Adding more bike lanes to relieve traffic is cheaper than adding more buses.
Stevenson also said this solution is better for the environment and would be a healthier option for students.
“It’s a significant investment to add more buses, so biking is more cost-effective,” he said. “It also takes the same amount of time to get to class by riding a bike as taking the bus.”
Jennifer Stuart, the manager of transportation planning at DOTS, said the forum helps them gauge the opinions and concerns of University community members regarding the transportation system so they can then implement any recommended changes.
“We try to get feedback in lots of different ways, whether through face-to-face meetings, online surveys or attending various student meetings,” she said. “We take an all-of-the-above approach.”
Stuart also said students usually ask questions about why the bus system operates the way it does. Some students ask for DOTS to add more bicycle lanes.
“I agree with these students that we need more bike lanes,” she said.
Stuart said the University Transportation Services Forum is a good program for students that should be continued in the future. She preferred the forum’s new format to the old one.
“This year’s format helps us reach out to more students,” she said.