Construction on 'Transportation Master Plan' is expected to begin this summer
According to University officials, the final draft of Rutgers’ Transportation Master Plan is under review, and construction is expected to begin this summer.
Rather than implementing a full-sized bus lane along the more congested stretch of College Avenue, Senior Director of the Department of Transportation Jack Molenaar said the final product will be a "quasi-bus lane," which will more closely resemble a "bus shoulder."
The plan takes into account short term, as well as mid-range and long-term improvements to the transportation system, such as additions and modifications in terms of student access to bike and pedestrian circulation systems and parking.
Drafting for the Transportation Master Plan began at the end of 2015, and is about 166 pages long, Molenaar said.
In addition to the "quasi-bus lane," there will also be bidirectional bike lanes to give students more of an incentive to utilize alternate forms of transportation.
“Essentially, the Brower side will be the two-way directional, it’ll be the bicycle lanes going in both directions on that side of the street. The buses will stay on the same side of the street they’ve always been on, and there’ll be more of a bus shoulder, which will delineate more that only buses should be here,” he said. “So hopefully they get people to stop parking illegally in what are bus stops.”
Molenaar said that the only way to make a bus lane that is entirely dedicated to buses — which would be the ideal option — would be to construct a physical barrier between where the buses drive and where the cars drive, which would be called a “dedicated right of way.”
“Bus rapid transit, which is BRT, think of a light rail line or any train line … bus rapid transit is basically light rail but on wheels,” he said. “What we have here, the campus transit system, is everything except a dedicated right of way. This is bus rapid transit, except for a dedicated right of way.”
Scheduling, bicycle access, pedestrian access, making routes more efficient and changing the direction of buses on College Avenue are all aspects that go into increasing the effectiveness of Rutgers’ bus system, Molenaar said.
“There are a lot of different pieces to this and none of them are a silver bullet,” he said.
Frank Wong, the executive director of Rutgers Planning and Development, said that the Rutgers 2030 plan recommends looking into the formation of dedicated bus lanes on Route 18 as a way to increase the system’s effectiveness.
If this dedicated lane were to be implemented, it would require a much deeper analysis and may have unforeseen negative implications on overall New Brunswick traffic, he said.
Molenaar and Wong told The Daily Targum that the University is also looking to implement a bike share system, similar to that of New York City’s “Citi Bike.”
Students would be able to rent a bike to get to classes within a reasonable distance. If enough students were to use the bike share system, it could significantly unclog the Rutgers bus network, they said.
Molenaar said the Transportation Master Plan is essential to the overall mission of the University.
At its foundation, Rutgers’ mission is to effectively educate its students, and that starts by getting them to class efficiently, he said.
“It’s what we do to make the buses operate a little more efficiently, how we do it with less bus stops, all these things,” he said. “If the buses move more efficiently, say, with the exact same resources and it’s helping to meet the mission, that’s what the master plan’s really looking at and how to meet that.”
Stephen Weiss is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in philosophy. He is an associate news editor for The Daily Targum.