Rutgers has added 15 buses to its fleet over the last 6 years


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Prior to employing First Transit, Rutgers ran its own bus system for over 50 years. After taking over in 2011, First Transit has conducted oversight of bus transportation services and added 15 busses to the University's roster.


The bus system at Rutgers has been serving the community for more than 50 years, but it was not until 2011, when the University partnered with First Transit, that it began to drastically transform.

Rutgers' bus service is the second-largest operating bus system in New Jersey, transporting more than 6 million passengers annually and providing more than 70,000 passenger trips per day, according to the First Transit website. 

First Transit, which is the largest provider of university transportation services, provides Rutgers with comprehensive management and maintenance services for its bus system, according to the website. The company works with 20 different colleges and universities throughout North America.

When the University started its contract with First Transit, it included 50 buses, Senior Director of Transportation Services Jack Molenaar said. 

“Since then, working with what our demand is, we now are up to 65 buses. It helps us keep more buses on the street,” he said. 

First Transit and the Department of Transportation Services (DOTS) meet to monitor student demand and to make sure the bus schedules accommodate class schedules and peak demand times, Molenaar said.

“It’s really a matter of them watching the system and seeing how they are hitting class breaks,” Molenaar said. “Can someone get out of this class and get to this other campus in the time that we are allotted within the class break schedule?”

The Rutgers bus system was conceived in 1961 — the same year that Rutgers built the Davidson Residence Hall on Busch campus. 

When more residence halls were built on Livingston, Molenaar said the University began to use more LX buses. When the yellow lot was built, they distributed more Livingston parking passes, which put more demand on the LX.

If a student is going to the Cook or Douglass campus between 3:30 to 7:30 p.m., they should give themselves plenty of time, Molenaar said, noting that Route 18 can become backed up with traffic to Campus Road on Busch campus.

“If you take two cars, back to back, that’s the length of one 40-foot bus. That’s two students versus 67,” he said.

John Karakoglou, the assistant director of DOTS, said First Transit is the third company to service Rutgers buses. The first company was Suburban Transit, followed by Academy Express.

Karakoglou said the LX has the largest quantity of buses serving its route, followed by the F and B buses, which have an equal number of buses.

The F bus does not run past 9 p.m. because the EE bus already services Downtown New Brunswick and the Douglass campus, he said. During rush hour, it is difficult to go through the downtown area, so that is why the F bus runs during the day. 

“All of our drivers have constant contact with the Rutgers Police through two-way radios. So anytime the buses are out there, the police dispatchers are listening to that radio,” Karakoglou said, regarding the safety of passengers on Rutgers buses. 

Depending on the severity of the emergency, if a student feels ill or in danger, drivers are obliged to stop, he said. 

“We start getting full buses around 12 o'clock. But, specifically between 3 and 7, you see the bus drivers calling the full bus loads during that time. Even if we added buses, you wouldn’t necessarily get to your class on time,” Karakoglou said. 

Milan Thacker, a Rutgers Business School sophomore, said the buses are always packed before classes, especially on the College Avenue campus at 4 p.m. and on Livingston campus at 7 p.m. 

During these busy times, Thacker said the buses are so overcrowded that people are on top of each other, on the stairs and leaning on the bus doors.

“Try to grab a seat and if you can't then at least grab onto something so you don't keep on falling over,” Thacker said. “If you're pressed against the bus door, try to tell people to create space for you and if you're not in a rush, definitely just wait for another bus.”

He said that timing the driver’s breaks more efficiently would improve the bus system. 

If the breaks were taken at proper times with a proper duration, then buses would come at normal intervals more often, preventing the buses from getting too packed, Thacker said.


Samil Tabani

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