BALLARO: Rutgers bus system must be abolished

“A, B, C, LX? I do not understand any of these bus names.”

I was riding the F bus sitting in the back row when I heard two sophomores pondering the meaning of the bus names.

It was a great question. In light of the namesake of this column, the hallowed LX bus, it seemed only fitting that I should have an answer to that. Little did I know, that answer would end in a call for the dissolution of Rutgers buses.

I went on a great investigation to answer the biggest mystery of our generation: What do the bus names mean? And I would have been writing about that investigation now, had it not all been spoiled for me in the end by a sophomore who handed me a small pamphlet titled “What Every Knight Should Know.” 

I thought there was going to be some contrived nonsense and a secret cult involved in deciphering the magic letters of the bus names, but it was much more boring than I expected. 

I felt these explanations were lacking. So instead, I would like to provide the real description of the buses, something actually useful rather than “destinations.” Who cares what campus the buses go to? The real question is, how do they feel? This is my definitive guide to Rutgers buses.

H: Housing Busch — I need to get to my car on Busch campus. 

A: Academic Busch — I am that desperate to get to my car on Busch campus. 

LX: The Livingston Express to College Avenue — I am a campus elitist, or I am okay knowing I might get trampled today. 

REXL: The Cook/Douglass Express to Livingston — I thought it was an LX and I regret everything.

F: Freeway to Cook/Douglass — I could leave the College Avenue campus and never go back. 

EE: Everything Else to  Cook/Douglass — I missed the F bus, or I live in New Brunswick. 

B: Busch — I question my major every day. 

C: Commuter loop Busch — I thought it was a B bus.

REXB: The Cook/Douglass Campus Express to Busch — It is 2 a.m. and I am leaving the party. 

Knight Mover: Oh god. It is 3 a.m., please get here faster. 

Weekend 1: The tolerable one. 

Weekend 2: This is why everyone parties on Thursdays.

With that said, it is time to say “down with the buses.” No one likes them and if they say they do, they are lying. Hear my case.

I pray for safety whenever I step on a crowded LX bus. I swear up and down when four A buses arrive but I needed an H bus. I grieve inconsolably when I sit in a puddle of leaked air conditioner fluid on an EE bus. 

I thought if we students aired these collective grievances enough, Rutgers would fix its lousy buses, until I found out that Rutgers does not actually own the buses. Instead, our hard-earned tuition money goes to the Rutgers administration privatizing the buses out to a corporation. 

So coincidentally, administration salary bloat seems to increase. Almost as if a pat on the back for a hard day’s work of denying the simple public service of adequate transportation. As the premier public university of New Jersey, Rutgers has a duty to serve the people, not profit off of them.

Enter First Transit, the corporation contracted by Rutgers that actually runs the system. Sometimes you will see a small car near the buses with a harrowing pink-and-blue logo brandishing the name. 

A cursory glance of its upbeat website belies the dreary lived experience of anyone who has had to suffer through an overcrowded LX bus at 5:30 p.m. in a heatwave when the air conditioner is broken, as usual.

In its vision and values page, First Transit stated “People are our most valuable asset ... Safety is our way of life, not a trend.” Students certainly feel like valuable assets when they are stuffed into a cattle car mislabeled “LX” while the safety of the administration's wallet is maintained.

The University is attempting to patch things up with Course Atlas, which seems to be less of an Ace bandage and more of a foul, used, hairy Bandaid that sits at the bottom of the Sonny Werblin Pool.

When the problem is an incompetent privatized transportation system, algorithms and throwing professors under the not-so proverbial bus are not the solution.

There might be hope, one day. Every now and then, if you look through the old master plans of Rutgers in special collections, sometimes you will hear optimistic talks of a mystical Rutgers monorail that would connect all the campuses in one closed loop. 

It could magically solve congestion and get anyone anywhere at any time. It is ever-elusive and unattainable, shrouded in untold pollution and demolition of an already dismembered city.

Sometimes though, I just wonder if there is a world where this column is called "Thoughts from the LX Boxcar."

I digress. In the meantime: Abolish Rutgers buses.

Anthony Ballaro is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in classics and public health. His column, "Thoughts from the LX," runs on alternate Thursdays.


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