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Rutgers transportation officers explain bus system operations

<p>The Rutgers bus system has its problems, including dripping water from the vehicle's air conditioning.&nbsp;</p>

The Rutgers bus system has its problems, including dripping water from the vehicle's air conditioning. 

Bus transportation plays a crucial role in both students’ academic and non-academic lives on campus, so Rutgers’ Institutional Planning and Operations (IPO) division offered some of the reasons behind the selection of today’s bus routes and stops.

“The express routes were created to stop at the classroom buildings and have the shortened bus route possible to meet the class break times,” said John Karakoglou, the assistant director of IPO’s Department of Transportation Services, when asked about the REXB and REXL bus routes.

The REXB, an express bus route serving the Cook, Douglass and Busch campuses, does not stop at the Busch Student Center for this reason. “If we traveled the entire campus, the bus route would not be reliable and would be difficult to keep on schedule,” Karakoglou said.

Why, then, does the REXB stop at the Hill Center twice if its sole purpose is to act as an express bus? “It gives anyone that is trying to get to class the ability to catch the bus just in case they missed it on the way in,” Karakoglou said.

Karakoglou offered similar reasoning behind the REXL bus route, which services students between the Cook, Douglass and Livingston campuses and does not stop at the Quads.

“Passengers from the Quads have the ability to leave their dorms and board the buses at the Livingston Student Center, which is closer to the classroom buildings,” he said. “Best scenario is to have fewer stops and have passengers walk to a designated area to ensure that students reach their classes as quickly as possible.”

The bus routes, then, were designed with the main goal of getting students to their classes as timely as possible. This explains why the B bus route, which services passengers between the Busch and Livingston campuses, detours around Route 18 to stop at the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center when returning from Livingston to Busch, he said.

“The B buses travel to the classroom buildings first and then to the dining halls and housing areas. This is to cover the 20-minute class breaks between the Busch and Livingston campuses,” Karakoglou said.

As for the timing of the buses, Dominick Rizzo, the manager of the Department of Transportation Services at Rutgers, said, “Each driver has a specific time that they pull in and out of the stops which keep the drivers spaced properly on their routes.” 

Rizzo provided another alternative as well. “The drivers’ schedules are not posted, but we post the frequency between buses on our website,” he said.

With the buses encountering a tumultuous start to the semester with several buses breaking down and extremely crowded buses, bus performance is an important statistic to take into account.

“We use on-time performance to keep track of how we are doing on each of the routes,” Karakoglou said. “On time” is defined as the range from 10 minutes early to 10 minutes late when compared to the schedule given to bus drivers, he said. 

Yet, this metric is not available to the public. “Currently we do not post our time performance online, but (we) are looking to do so in the future,” Rizzo said.

As for bus maintenance, Karakoglou assured that the buses were properly looked after. “The buses are fueled and all fluids are checked every night, and they are fully inspected every six months with our New Jersey Department of Transportation inspections,” Karakoglou said. “Our bus provider also refers to the drivers’ daily inspection sheets and performs repairs as needed.”

Karakoglou acknowledged the problem of water dripping on to bus seats due to the condensation formed from air conditioning systems on buses. 

“The air conditioning systems are cleaned and the lines are blown out when the maintenance is performed, and we are constantly monitoring and making adjustments as needed,” he said.

There are no immediate plans to change bus routes or add new bus stops, Rizzo said. As Rutgers continues to prepare to achieve its 2030 vision, including changes and updates to its transportation services. 

Rizzo said that the Department of Transportation Services “works closely with the Rutgers Planning Department and will be included when the time comes to make any recommendations for new routes.”

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