Rutgers has a lot of great selling points. Fat sandwiches, scenic views of the (slightly polluted) Raritan and a laundry list of possible major and career choices are all Rutgers specialties. Perhaps the most practical attraction Rutgers has to offer is its proximity to New York City and Philadelphia, both bustling hubs of academic opportunities and (often unpaid) internships.
Spend a few minutes trying to find the cost of a bus or train ticket to either city. How about the cost, including the 25 percent student discount that only applies to the monthly pass? How about the location of the bus station or departure times? It will become pretty obvious pretty fast that this information is not readily available anywhere.
Only after making an account with NJ Transit, downloading their app and pretending to buy tickets will you learn the cost of commuting.
The cost of a two-way train ticket from the New Brunswick Train Station to New York Penn Station costs $28.00 dollars, and the cost of a bus ticket is only slightly below that amount. A monthly train pass on that same route costs about $224.00 without a discount and $168.00 with a student discount. For someone commuting or interning throughout the semester (roughly four months), the total cost comes to $672.
Ignoring the fact that this information is not clearly communicated to Rutgers students, the cost itself is astronomical. Rutgers must do something to make train and bus tickets readily available and affordable for its students, especially since Rutgers’ proximity to the city is so widely advertised.
While the commute from New Brunswick to New York City can be done by train, bus or car, any Rutgers student will tell you the train is infinitely better.
The struggle to find parking in New York all but eliminates driving as an option, and the bus from New Brunswick to New York City is all but accessible. The Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus is not currently selling tickets and, by extension, ceased to communicate information about the bus route and schedule to students.
Students are already strapped for cash, what with tuition, textbook and living expenses in a college town. To ask students lucky enough to receive an internship offer in New York City or Philadelphia to then spend more than $700 to get there is unreasonable. Rutgers needs to enable the student body to take advantage of academic and career opportunities instead of leaving them to their own devices.
Students who commute are left in a similar situation, having to spend the equivalent of a month’s worth of rent each semester to get to and from campus. Many commuters do not live on the Northeastern Corridor train line, which means their commute is longer and more expensive.
On a global scale, creating opportunities for more than 40,000 people to opt-in to public transportation and away from driving would significantly reduce the carbon footprint that comes with travel. Rutgers prides itself on solar panels and its Climate Task Force but does little to reduce the number of cars on campus by promoting public transportation.
Ideally, students would be able to buy a monthly train pass with a 50 percent student discount and travel anywhere in the proximity of Rutgers. At the very least, train tickets and passes into New York City and Philadelphia should be made significantly cheaper.
The way we see it, Rutgers has two routes it can take to deliver an affordable train ticket to those who need it. The most straightforward solution is for Rutgers, as the largest public university in New Jersey, to negotiate with NJ Transit directly and create a better student discount — if not for all New Jersey colleges, then at least for Rutgers students.
The second and less ideal option is for Rutgers to offer stipends on a case-by-case basis. Interns, commuters or other students who need to use the train or bus could fill out an application detailing costs and reasons for transport. Rutgers could then offer a grant to cover at least part of the cost of commuting.
The fact is students should not be financially punished for having to commute home or to an internship. Rutgers must do more to address the astronomical cost of taking the train or bus into New York City or Philadelphia and make information much more accessible.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 153rd editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.