NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The city of New Brunswick has long been known as a major transportation hub for the region. It’s no surprise then, that the official nickname is “Hub City”. With its proximity to New York City as well as being a key rail destination, a home for a major university and the seat of Middlesex County government – New Brunswick has been growing at a record pace in recent years thereby putting a heavy strain on local transit options.
Seeing the need for a solution, Charlie Kratovil, the editor of New Brunswick Today and current candidate for mayor of New Brunswick developed a detailed plan to help the residents of New Brunswick get around via mass transit – particularly those without access to a vehicle. He has been presenting the details of this plan since the beginning of 2018 and has made it one of his signature campaign promises if he is elected mayor in November.
The plan outline includes combining the existing transit infrastructure that is offered in New Brunswick both by the Rutgers University bus system which serves the 3 campuses as well as the Middlesex County Area Transit system. Both of those are currently in service but Kratovil argues they are not enough to serve the residents of the city.
The Rutgers system, though it is free and available for use by the public, primarily focuses on access to the various location of Rutgers campuses rather than offering a comprehensive system serving the entire population of New Brunswick. Kratovil recognizes that asking Rutgers to serve as a de-facto public transit for the city is an unrealistic proposal, however, he also proposes collaborating with Rutgers on improving access not just for students but the community at large.
As for the Middlesex County Area Transit – Kratovil feels that it is redundant and operates in a very limited capacity that is not conducive to the transit needs of many residents. As such, the system would need to be heavily revamped in order to accomplish its original intended purpose in connecting the rest of the county with the hubs of Hub City.
Kratovil’s key element of the proposal is launching an innovative New Brunswick city bus system that builds on the shortcomings of the previous transit options by partnering with North Brunswick, Middlesex County and Rutgers University. Dubbed “BrunsQuick”, Kratovil estimates that this new system – proposed to be built by supplementing existing services, modifying several routes and extending service – could be accomplished in just over $2 million contributed in various amounts by the members of the partnership.
Likewise, Kratovil – who was recently endorsed by a progressive Rutgers student organization “RU Progressive” – in accordance with his campaign promise of “cleaning up” New Brunswick, believes that the entire proposed system should introduce electric buses both for existing and potential services.
“Our city needs a transportation system that will support our residents, students, businesses, hospitals, and visitors,” said Kratovil. “By modernizing our fragmented public transportation systems, we will make it easier for the people of New Brunswick to connect with more economic and educational opportunities, and allow the city to grow without exacerbating parking problems and traffic congestion.”
Rebranding the system as “BrunsQuick”, further explains Kratovil would allow to centralize the marketing and improve general access to information by the public about the offered services in the system. This would be accomplished by creating a unified website, set uniform standards and hours of service that would ease the confusion for the users, as well as potentially increase ridership while reducing existing vehicle bottlenecks that plague the downtown area.
“Most of the pieces are already in place, but are not optimized or connected into one system,” says Kratovil. “We can maximize the positive impacts of buses on the local economy.”
Kratovil has delivered the presentation of the proposal to the New Brunswick Traffic Commission in February 2018, the Middlesex County Transportation Coordinating Committee in June 2018 and to the New Brunswick City Market Board of Directors in July of 2018.
Kratovil will once again be presenting an updated version of the proposal to the Second Ward Neighborhood Block Club tonight. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Quaker Meeting House located at 109 Nichol Avenue and is open to the public.
Update 2 p.m. on 9/24/18: Includes comment from Charlie Kratovil about the presentation.
Editor’s Note: Charlie Kratovil is the primary Editor of the New Brunswick Today publication. However, in an effort to preserve editorial independence of the publication, this article and others concerning the mayoral race and Charlie Kratovil’s candidacy will be written and edited entirely by New Brunswick Today staff. This article was written & edited in its entirety, independently by Ilya Arbit. For any questions, comments or concerns, the author and editor of this story can be reached at [email protected].