Issue Date: Mar 20, 2006
By Pam Orel
Members of the Rutgers-New Brunswick community can meet with transportation experts and suggest ideas for solving vexing campus travel problems at two open houses at the end of the month. The forums are designed to build community involvement in the university’s first transportation master plan, which will project needs and suggest priorities for the next decade.
The dialogue is a first step in an important process that could shape the university’s priorities, according to Frank Wong, executive director, Office of University Planning and Development. “Whatever decisions are ultimately made about transportation, it affects everyone at Rutgers,” Wong said. “It is essential that there be buy-in from the entire Rutgers community.”
The proposed transportation master plan, to be completed in June, will take into account several major developments likely to have transportation implications, including the anticipated redevelopment of the College Avenue campus and improvements to Route 18.
The open houses, sponsored by Rutgers’ Parking and Transportation Services and the Office of University Planning and Development, are scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, March 27, at the Rutgers Student Center Multipurpose Room, College Avenue, and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 28, at the Douglass College Center, Meeting Room B, George Street and Nichol Avenue.
Community members can drop in at any point during the sessions and talk to engineers from a consulting firm hired to design the master plan about perennial concerns, such as parking and bus service, and offer ideas for improvements.
The university hired the firm Martin/Alexiou/Bryson, PLLC, of Raleigh, N.C., in August. The firm, recognized for its innovative approach to transportation and university master planning, intends to meet later this spring with officials in neighboring communities; university parking and transportation officials have spent the semester meeting with Rutgers student government associations.
Jennifer Lane, university transportation planner, said that while several planning studies have explored ways to improve bikeways and manage limited campus parking, the transportation master plan is the first comprehensive study of Rutgers’ transportation needs. It will look at both transportation on campus and the links between Rutgers and the local bus and train services.
Lane emphasized that the engineering firm is seeking ideas and suggestions, and that no final decisions have been made. “Everything is on the table right now,” she said. “This process is designed to be a dialogue.”
Some ideas being discussed include:
• Identifying people who don’t bring their cars to campus every day and revising the parking permit system to better match the needs of this group. Under the present system, employees and commuting students pay a flat fee for permits, regardless of how often they park a car on campus.
• Adapting bus routes to accommodate people who live near campus but not within walking distance of current university bus stops.
• Cost-effective ways to improve bikeways and walking paths, as well as bike storage facilities.
As part of the study, data will be gathered from those who come to campus regularly, and employees will be invited to contribute suggestions and follow progress of the plan online. A survey will be sent to employees this month, asking for information that could help planners identify travel habits and plans of commuting students and employees.
The way in which Rutgers responds to challenges in the next decade will have far-reaching implications for the university’s planned growth, officials say. “Rutgers’ future may depend on how well we can move efficiently around campus without always having to use a personal vehicle,” said Jack Molenaar, director of parking and transportation services.
A Web site, accessible at planning.rutgers.edu by late March, will allow the community to see an outline of the draft plan as it evolves and to submit ideas and comments.
Rutgers transit by the numbers
• The Rutgers bus system has 43 buses in its fleet; it’s the second-largest in New Jersey and one of the largest in the country.
• On a typical academic weekday, Rutgers buses make more than 900 stops on the College Avenue campus alone and more than 6,400 stops around campus.
• There’s no one spot that all buses pass on their respective routes. If such a spot existed, however, a person standing there would see a Rutgers bus pass by every
• Rutgers buses carry more than 70,000 trips each academic day; each trip is defined as one person entering the bus at one stop and disembarking at another stop. That volume has almost doubled in the past year.
• More than 21,000 parking spaces are in place on the New Brunswick/Piscataway campuses, where approximately 200 acres are devoted to parking.
This article was published in the Mar 20, 2006 edition of the Rutgers Focus and is available online at http://urwebsrv.rutgers.edu/focus/article/link/1784/