New Transportation Alternative: The Proposal for Rutgers Monorail System Introduced to the Public


By Yifei Ji

After decades of discussion, a proposed Rutgers monorail system that would run through all five campuses in New Brunswick and Piscataway has been included in the New Brunswick Strategic Planning Proposal, though there is no timetable for construction due to its cost.

The plan calls for the route to run from the Edison train station, stopping at the Livingston, Busch and College Ave campuses, the New Brunswick Train Station, before ending at Cook/Douglass Campus. The entire length of the system will be approximately 6.2 miles.

The plan, also known as Rutgers Knight Rail, was developed by two Rutgers faculty members. Susan English, the executive vice president of Academic Affairs, and Trefor Williams, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, developed the proposal.

“I brought it up based on not only my experience as a Rutgers employee, also from seeing how students take a lot of time getting to one campus from another.” English said.

Currently, the major transportation tool for most Rutgers students is the the bus system. It usually takes more than 30 minutes for students to shuttle from one class to another when they have classes on different campuses. English said she believes the new system will alleviate the need for buses, and will help avoid gridlock in New Brunswick and Piscataway area as a consequence.

Realizing the potential outcomes of an on-campus monorail, English approached Williams to create the proposal because of his engineering expertise. It took Williams less than a week to devise the proposal. In it, Williams says the monorail system would “reduce traffic congestion, provide a more sustainable transportation alternative and increase mobility between the campuses in New Brunswick.”

“Arriving for classes and meetings in record time would become a reality, affording students, faculty and administrators a better use of their time.” Williams said. He also outlined a number of other benefits for Rutgers as a result of the monorail system, such as “improving the health and wellness of individuals and populations, creating a sustainable world through innovation, engineering, and technology.”

“Even though the cost can be substantial,” Williams said, “the construction could accrue many long-term benefits to the Rutgers campus and the region.”

Williams’ research suggests a fully built system could cost between $1 billion and $2.5 billion, depending on design decisions like the required speed and the size of the monorail cars. He predicts the majority of funding will have to come from the federal and state budgets.

“Right now, it’s still at the stage of idea, and it can only happen if it is monetarily feasible, which could take a really long time.” English said. “Surely it would take much more than just our efforts to make this idea a reality.”