February 17, 2019 | 35° F

Rutgers offers wealth of opportunities for commuting students

Photo by Julian Perez |

Rutgers is going the distance in accommodating both commuters and residential students with their college experiences.

Rutgers University—New Brunswick is located between New York City and Philadelphia, two major cities. With school housing and public transportation access, it makes sense that the University's students are made up of both commuters and non-commuters.

Ciarra Zatorski, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, is a commuter. She thinks that because the school offers a vast amount of parking space, students are more than able to commute.

“With Rutgers’ expansion and increase in parking lots, the school definitely allows easier access for students to choose between being commuters and living on campus,” she said.

Because the school has access to New Jersey Transit, it is another reason why students are able to commute to school, Zatorski said.

Zatorski does not live far from the school, and thought it would make more sense to commute given what she thinks is a short travel time. 

“With the University being only 25 to 30 minutes away from me, it's not a difficult commute," she said.

But commuting does vary from student to student. It made sense for her to commute based on her proximity from the campus, she said. For others, such as incoming first-years, it might be a good idea to live on campus.

“I would suggest living on campus for at least the first year to get acquainted with the University, as well as to make friends,” she said. “Get involved in clubs or other things that interest you in order to feel like a part of the Rutgers community.”

Jack E. Molenaar, director of the Department of Transportation Services at Rutgers University, also agrees with the school’s commutable access.

“Everything is commutable if you have the time," Molenaar said. “It’s probably the most commutable school in the country.”

Molenaar believes the school’s geographical location, as opposed to a school in the Midwest where students typically live in school-provided housing, is a big reason why students have the access to commute.

“(Rutgers) isn’t in the middle of the country,” he said. “There is a large population living in nearby towns.”

His department uses their statistics and numbers from their commuting parking passes sales to determine a general sense of how many students commute.

“We sell about 13,000 commuter parking passes a year,” he said. “It’s a big number.”

Since there are students living outside of the University's housing, but within the school’s proximity, it is difficult to determine exactly how many commuting students attend Rutgers, he said.

“If a student lives behind the College Avenue Student Center, you’re considered a commuter,” he said.

Students do not make it easy to determine exact commuting student percentages because students do not change their housing address when they should, he said.

“They’d rather not change it, and have their important mail sent back home,” Molenaar said.

The University began selling parking permits in an effort to reduce traffic, he said. 

“It’s hard to look for street parking,” he said. “(We) want students to take the bus instead.”

But commuting students often do not get the chance to experience what it is like living on campus, and those who do think otherwise.

“You're definitely more in tune with what’s happening off and on campus,” Dylan Stone, a School of Arts and Sciences senior who lives on campus, said. “Rutgers gives us everything we want and more.”

Stone used to lived in an urbanized area in Houston, Texas,  and has taken notice of the change of environment here at Rutgers. He believes commuting students are missing out on the college experience.

“It’s easier to go out and hangout with friends,” he said. “You can go to a local place to grab a bite and a drink, if you’re old enough.”

He also stresses that students living on-campus have easier access to libraries and computer labs, which can help with assignments and exams.

If students have the opportunity to live on campus, they should, he said.

“Everyone is different, (but) if you have a lot of school pride and you like to be involved, I would recommend it,” he said. “A college town is much more fun than a city college.”

If a student is interested in athletics, then it would be even more of a benefit for them to live on-campus, he said.

“In a city, everyone is kind of doing their own thing and not really paying attention to the college teams,” Stone said.

Rutgers and the Department of Transportation services continue to work to accommodate both types of students.

“We put in bicycle lockers to encourage their use for commuters,” Molenaar said. “The Off-Campus Student Association also has been great for commuters.”

Julian Jimenez

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