The separation between the New Brunswick campuses is perhaps one of the greatest and worst aspects of the school. It is important to recognize that the separation provides a variety of distinct cultures and experiences that can help make the large university feel more intimate and attractive to students. However, this separation also proves to be cumbersome as it is inconvenient to travel to and from classes on different campuses. For example, taking a “REXB” bus from Busch to Cook Douglass is roughly 15 minutes from Allison Road Classrooms (Busch) to Cabaret Theater (Cook) when you account for all of the stops. In traffic though, this number has the potential to double or triple depending on how congested Route 18 gets. Although it would be understandable if such delays and traffic were infrequent occurrences, the fact of the matter is that this happens on a daily basis. Not only does this traffic frustrate drivers and students trying to get to class but it is also harmful for the environment as the cars and buses go through additional fuel.
One alternative that the State and University may want to look into is the creation of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system. Elements of the BRT system already exist within the current campus bus configuration but dedicated lanes and improved bus stops could lead to substantial improvements that will both benefit traffic congestion and the impact on the environment. Although any change to the status quo will take a large amount of resources, I believe that redoing Route 18 to include a Rutgers Bus only lane is a necessary investment. Giving the buses their own lane will reduce the amount of large, slow vehicles merging onto Route 18 which in turn will lower the potential for accidents and allow for automobiles to drive at the posted speed limit. Furthermore, a separate lane for Rutgers buses will reduce the amount of carbon emissions as they will no longer be stuck in traffic.
Another facet of a BRT system that Rutgers should seek to implement is an improvement in bus stops. Currently, many bus stops along College Ave and Cook Douglass are placed in a fashion that the bus partially blocks the flow of traffic. This disruption not only results in increased traffic but also poses risks as automobiles cannot see students crossing the street. Improving bus stops would mainly be focused on giving the bus a place where it can fully pull into so that traffic could safely pass and where there is a high pedestrian / automobile line of sight.
By adapting the guidelines and vision of a Bus Rapid Transit system, Rutgers New Brunswick could increase the connectivity between campuses, reduce the strain on the environment, and minimize the impact on existing traffic. Although such a plan may require the expansion of Route 18 to accommodate more lanes between Piscataway and New Brunswick, the overall impact that the plan would have is a net benefit to both those concerned about the environment and those who want a more efficient transit system.