EDITORIAL: Stay in your lane (or your ‘shoulder’)
Transportation Master Plan has proven to have some flaws
Back in January, at the beginning of the spring semester, Rutgers seemed to begin a big renovation plan to improve transportation at the University. This began with the implementation of bike and bus lanes along the side of College Avenue. The plan was meant to incorporate a “newly designed street” with separate and marked bike-only and bus-only lanes, hoping to create a less congested street. The transportation plan was also made in hopes to promote the safety for other forms of transportations aside from the buses. Parking meters that were regularly on College Avenue were to be removed for this adjustment. These changes were estimated to be complete by the end of this semester. This was all detailed in an email University President Robert L. Barchi sent out to the Rutgers community.
Fast forward to three months and the loss of 50 parking spots later, the final draft of this Rutgers’ Transportation Master Plan is “under review,” with plans for construction starting this summer.
The plans to create these individual bike and bus lanes have now been adapted into what Senior Director of the Department of Transportation Jack Molenaar calls a “quasi-bus lane.” It could also be considered a “bus shoulder.” But what do these terms really mean?
These special labels for the “redesign” of the streets are merely synonymous for “these streets were never big enough for bike-only and bus-only lanes.”
After a 166-page long plan that was called a Transportation Master Plan, one would think that it was detailed enough to account for the fact that the street was never big enough for separate bus lanes in the first place.
The way Molenaar described how he envisioned the street in front of Brower Commons to be sounded highly familiar to the way that it is now. At the end of his description of how he was handling bicycle access, scheduling, pedestrian access and altering routes, Molenaar said, “there are a lot of different pieces to this and none of them are a silver bullet.” This vaguely sounds like an excuse for individual parts of a plan not being as effective as they were originally set out to be.
One of the biggest complaints that students have against Rutgers is its transportation system. The buses are limited and therefore result in each one having too many students on board, almost piling out. And the ones that are available run slowly because of how many students get on and off them at every spot. Rutgers has tried to get rid of bus stops to try and manage these delays but this has only resulted in complaints from the student body.
If Rutgers wants to do something about the negative response to its transportation, it needs to add more buses to the system. It is clear that Rutgers is attempting to do everything but that by encouraging the use of bikes and alternate transportation, especially by the implementation of a bike share system similar to New York City’s “Citi Bike.” It is also clear that “solutions” like these and the Transportation Master Plan are created because buses can be expensive. However, if the University sees that a certain method is not working, it should take the necessary steps to do what is most beneficial for its campus. And yes, adding some buses to the system will cost money, but these are things that the University’s budget is supposed to go toward in the first place — things that better the experience of the students.
Even if Rutgers does not want to add more buses, the least the University can do is implement a plan that makes real changes to fix the congestion of the campus.