Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 27
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
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New Daytime FreeB Offers Wider Access

Ellen Gilbert

Residents of all ages in both the Borough and the Township are welcoming the news that, beginning Wednesday, July 6, free shuttle service will be running three days a week during daytime hours to connect residents to the retail, community, and recreation areas around Princeton.

“We’re calling it the daytime FreeB to distinguish it from the commuter FreeB,” said Princeton Senior Resource Center Executive Director Susan Hoskins, who was involved in planning the new service. The bus will cover a route that goes through the Borough and the Township, with stops at Princeton Public Library, the Community Park Pool, the Medical Center on Witherspoon Street, Princeton Shopping Center, Elm Court and Harriet Bryan House, Suzanne Patterson Building, Spruce Circle, Borough Hall, and along Nassau Street. Anyone, of any age, may use the FreeB, which is wheelchair accessible.

The existing short, blue commuter FreeB only runs from 5 to 9 a.m. in the morning and 5 to 9 p.m. at night. The new service will run midday on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Ridership is encouraged during the six-month trial period, which will be considered a success if there is at least 40 percent occupancy on the 18-seat bus.

“This will assist with additional activity for our merchants,” noted Township Mayor Chad Goerner of the new service, which is the result of the Community Transportation Coordination Initiative, a collaboration between the governing bodies and Princeton University.

“This is a great step for coordinating transportation services in the Princeton community,” said Kristin Appelget, Director of Community and Regional Affairs for the University. “The shuttle service will also offer connections with the University’s Tiger Transit system, which is also free for Princeton community residents.”

In response to a question about the lack of a stop at Redding Circle, Borough Traffic and Transportation Committee chair Anton Lahnston explained that “we originally thought the riders from Redding Circle could walk a short distance to get the Daytime FreeB. We need to reconsider that decision. But, bottom line, this is not an extended use of the current FreeB — it is a new use, a very different use of a bus. I want to be very clear on that.”

Funded by private donations, the daytime FreeB’s trial period will not require any taxpayer dollars to run, explained Borough Administrator Bob Bruschi at a recent meeting. Approximately $30,000 was raised from “three or four donors” for the trial period. Officials declined to release the names of the individual donors.

“My goal is to encourage the older adults to get out of their homes and get connected,” observed Ms. Hoskins. “If you live in a small community we can bring things to you, but isn’t it great to get out and mix with other people!”

The shuttle will leave the Senior Resource Center at 30 past the hour each hour between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and run the route through town. “This will provide much needed service to Elm Court and Harriet Bryan House which has no public transportation available,” noted Director of Princeton Community Housing Sandra Persichetti.

The driver’s lunch break is at 11:30 a.m., so there will be no service between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

In addition to serving older residents, the Daytime FreeB “offers a lot of exciting possibilities for the whole community to use,” Ms. Hoskins continued. “I’d love to use it to get to a meeting in town without getting all wound up about parking.”

“I hope teens take advantage of the service, especially over the summer, to get to the pool, the skate park, the shopping center, and to town without having to rely on mom and dad to drive them,” said Township Committeewoman Liz Lempert.

For more information on the commuter FreeB visit princetonsenior.org or call (609) 497-7622. Another website is expected at http://princetonboro.org/jitney.

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