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Rutgers transportation services consider student concerns in bus system updates

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The Department of Transportation Services (DOTS) ensures that student complaints are taken into account when finding new improvements to the University’s bus system, such as improved location services that will soon be added. THE DAILY TARGUM / FEBRUARY 2016

Although Rutgers University cultivates a diverse student body with a wide range of backgrounds and opinions, there is a single issue with the power to unify students, alumni and faculty alike — the University bus service.

Getting up close and personal with other students is a daily affair for many, an occurance seasoned students are all too familiar with. 

“Looking back, in the four years I’ve been here, I don’t feel like the buses have gotten any better. I don’t feel like they’ve gotten worse either. They’re just something we all have to deal with,” said Michael Laganella, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. 

While the perception of a stagnant bus service may be common, there have been several efforts in recent years to improve the system. Some changes are the direct result of complaints from the community, such as the recent change to start regular campus bus service at 6 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. to accommodate riders who need to get to work earlier in the day, said John Karakoglou, manager of the Department of Transportation Services (DOTS).

High traffic hours are problematic for students that rely on buses to get to class, with larger time gaps between arrivals and no guarantee of boarding overcrowded buses following a class break. 

The bus service strives to meet the needs of all students during peak hours by substantially increasing the amount of vehicles in operation, with 47 buses on 11 routes, Karakoglou said.

But even with the full fleet of buses deployed, getting around campus can be a daunting task. For students that want to avoid the buse system, the BikeRU initiative allows for the use of personal or rented bicycles.DOTS has recently updated maps of bicycle routes for each campus, according to the BikeRU website.

The recent additions of bike and bus lanes on College Avenue is the University’s latest effort to alleviate traffic congestion. 

Prior to the change, surveyed students “indicated that they would use bikes more often to get around but have been concerned about congestion and safety issues,” according to an article published in Rutgers Today in January 2017.

“I haven’t used a bike at all since they made the change. I didn’t use them before either. I’d honestly rather just deal with the bus,” said Joseph Fisher, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. 

It is clear that the bus remains a popular choice for a sizeable portion of the student body. 

Therefore, the quality of the service has a high influence on the success of students. To ensure that this success continues, students are encouraged to voice any concerns they have, Karakoglou said.

The sheer scale of the bus service at a university with a student population as large as Rutgers means that there is a high volume of complaints received. The most common concern from the community centers around the inaccuracies of bus arrival predictions on the official Rutgers app,  Karakoglou said. These complaints have also factored into future plans to improve the buses.

“We are in the process of adding passenger counters, Wi-Fi and a new tracking app to all the buses,” he said.

If a student would like to voice concern over any aspect of the service, they can email DOTS directly or call the dispatch line at 848-932-7817. The DOTS website displays further contact information, with different channels available depending on the nature of the issue.

“All complaints are reviewed by either myself or my staff and we involve the bus company to rectify any problems” Karakoglou said.

Antonio Rodriguez

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