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Rutgers moves Cabaret Theater bus stop to George Street

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The Cabaret Theater bus stop will soon see its last set of students.

The New Brunswick Fire Department has asked Rutgers University to remove the stop on Nichol Avenue, said Jack Molenaar, director of the Rutgers University Department of Transportation Services. 

Beginning on Aug. 29, the RexB, RexL, EE and F buses will stop at the NJ Transit shelter on George Street, across from the College Hall bus stop.

“It was something that the city requested, so we’re moving the stop,” he said. “It used to be on George Street, (...) but we switched it in 2005.”

The stop was originally moved to Nichol Ave. from George Street 10 years ago because of Rt. 18 construction, which increased traffic on George Street. A study at the time showed that the stop, then referred to as the Cooper Stop due to its proximity to Cooper Dining Hall, was actually causing congestion on George Street.

The fire department asked Rutgers to move the stop due to fire safety concerns, Molenaar said.

“They felt they couldn’t respond to fires fast enough,” Molenaar said.

There is no analysis of the possible traffic impact moving the stop could have. The last study to analyze the bus stops is 11 years old, and it only accounted for active construction on the nearby sections of Rt. 18, Molenaar said.

“It’s something we at Rutgers wanted to keep on Nichol,” he said. "I'd rather keep it on Nichol. The only other (potential) stop could be on Red Oak Lane."

RUDOTS chose George St. over Red Oak Lane for the stop because many students use the Nichol Stop as their entry point to Douglass campus, he said.

If the stop was moved to Red Oak Lane, more students would have to walk back toward the student center or their classrooms. Relocating the stop on George Street allows students to all head in one direction.

Rutgers will resume full bus service for the fall semester on Aug. 29.

The fire department requested the change due to issues reported by firefighters who had difficulty passing through Nichol Ave., said Lt. Hasahya Hirya, an officer with the New Brunswick Fire Department.

"The department's officers had had concerns with frequent traffic congestion in and around the existing bus stop," he said in an email. "This traffic problem is exacerbated during peak travel hours for (New Brunswick) as well as Rutgers University."

He said the bus stop had not been officially adopted by the New Brunswick Engineering Department or its city council, though it had continued to operate after construction crews finished renovating Rt. 18 in early 2010. 

"Responding units have experienced response delays directly correlated to the traffic volume near or around the Nichol Ave. bus stop," he said.

Fire crews normally use Nichol Ave. and Suydam Street to respond to fires in the general area of the Cook/Douglass campuses, he said. Because of the vehicle and pedestrian traffic on that road, including pedestrians who cross the street without right-of-way, emergency vehicles have difficulty responding.

A proposed fire lane near Jameson Hall would also require access to Nichol Ave, he said. 

"The heavy vehicular and pedestrian traffic volume that often follow bus activity block the acccess road," he said. "Negotiating the traffic becomes a laborious task because bus drivers (...) are trained to stand still when an emergency vehicle approaches, which in turn often adds to the congestion of this problem area."

Editor's note: This story was updated with information from the New Brunswick Fire Department on Aug. 24.

Nikhilesh De is a School of Engineering junior. He is the news editor of The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.

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