University Hopes New Shuttle Route Will Ease Congestion, Improve Mobility
Princeton University has expanded its P-Rides transit program by launching an additional loop to facilitate faculty, staff, student, and visitor mobility.
The new route, called the Blue Line, serves as a parking shuttle serving Lot 21, the parking lot adjacent to Jadwin Gym on the southeastern part of campus, near Faculty Road.
With approximately half of Lot 21's 600 spaces currently in use daily, the area proved to be the most attractive place to assign the hub of the new line.
"I think the primary target [of the Blue Line] is for the people who commute across Route 1 in the morning and come into Princeton along Harrison Street," said Laurel Harvey, general manager of administration for the University. The goal is to get drivers arriving in Princeton via Washington Road or Harrison Street to turn on Faculty Road before driving further into the Borough.
Gnarled traffic that often plagues the Borough may be loosened as well due to the new program. Ms. Harvey said the new shuttle could reduce traffic in parts of the Borough by allowing cars to park without actually reaching downtown.
"Why bother continuing up Washington [Road] and dealing with traffic in Borough streets?" Ms. Harvey said.
More efficient transportation is the program's aim as well. Drop-off points are in close proximity to common destinations.
"It's not just easing congestion or reducing commute time, but more door-to-door service," she said.
Earlier this year, the P-Rides program launched its primary route, a graduate student line that extends from the Lawrence Apartments on West Road, near Stony Brook, to the Butler Apartments off Harrison Street.
While the graduate shuttle, or the Green Line, serves only graduate students, the Blue Line is intended to meet the needs of all individuals affiliated with the University.
The Green Line underwent a six-month evaluation period for the overall efficacy of the program. Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association, the organization that manages the P-Rides program, determined that the graduate shuttle alone handles up to 700 passengers daily. Ms. Harvey said that the new line will be subjected to the same type of evaluation, and that it is, like the graduate shuttle, an evolving entity.
"I think as a first step, we need to look at having better utilization of 300 empty spaces in Lot 21." She added, "It will be an interesting experiment to see, on a voluntary basis, who finds this attractive."
The voluntary basis of the Blue Line is instrumental for the P-Rides program to take on the role of a comprehensive, University-wide shuttle system. The graduate shuttle, while enabling students to move laterally on campus, owes much of its success to the fact that graduate students are not issued campus parking permits. This was an attempt by the University to eliminate campus driving altogether. The far-removed graduate housing and the inability for graduate students to drive onto campus have breathed significant life into the graduate shuttle.
The Bottom Line
Ms. Harvey says that before any other steps in the program are taken, the University will try to "make [Lot 21] more attractive to people."
She also said the University expects to use the spaces for people auditing courses and those who come to the University regularly, but do not have regular parking passes, including invited guests, visitors to the art museum, and people taking campus tours.
However, Ms. Harvey said the University is using this initial trial period to build upon its main objective: to keep people from driving back and forth on campus and through the Borough. "The bottom line is that we have room to grow, and [these spaces] are a lot more attractive with the shuttle system, and I urge people to be patient and recognize that this is a [trial period]," she added.