“I feel so removed from everything.” “There is nothing here.” “I’m so stuck in the Orange Bubble.” I often hear these grumbles while walking to class or sitting in Frist. We are removed, and as lovely as Nassau Street is, there is not much here in Princeton. But I don’t think Princeton students should have to be stuck in any bubble. Taking trips to New York City could be a way to pop it.
Going to the city provides the chance to explore, as well as engage with an endless number of communities and experiences. At less than 60 miles away, it is close enough for a day or weekend trip and provides as good break in someone’s weekend routine. That said, the current options available to get Princeton students to the city are unreliable or expensive enough to deter students from making the trip. Princeton has the resources to provide a convenient bus or shuttle to New York City and should invest in providing that service for its students.
Currently, the most popular mode of getting to New York is by using the Dinky and then connecting to the main New Jersey Transit line. Bless its quirky heart, but the Dinky train never quite works when you need it to. Students who get opportunities to work or have interviews in the city often worry about its reliability.
Lexi Quirk ’18, a campus representative for Red Bull, has wanted to involve more Princeton students in their events tailored for college students, such as shows and concerts, but says, “It can be pretty hard to get people to the events, even though I know people are interested.” She has had her own difficulty staying involved in the job, as the Dinky is unpredictable to the point that she and other Princeton students that work in New York or need to get to Princeton Junction often Uber or take a cab. Experiential learning opportunities such as a jobs or internships should be encouraged, and providing a consistent means of getting to New York would be a clear sign of support for working students.
Expense is another concern of Princeton students interested in getting to the city. The Dinky costs three dollars to get to Princeton Junction. Then, from Princeton Junction to Penn Station is another $16 one-way. This comes out to be a $38 round trip to get to New York, which is not a reasonable amount for some students to spend on a day or weekend trip.
Another not-so-well-known option is using Megabus to get to New York. There is a bus that leaves from Palmer Square (across the street from The Bent Spoon) roughly every two hours and usually costs $12-14 per ride, occasionally offering a one-dollar trip. This is a much less publicized and talked about form of transportation at Princeton, and the standard prices of $18-$24 round trip do not provide a significantly more accessible price point than the Dinky.
With these being the two clear options for mass transportation to New York, getting to the city is not as accessible as it should be. Some classes offer extra credit for visiting museums such as the Museum of Natural History or the Museum of Modern Art, and not all students can make their way into the city. Professors can urge their students to take advantage of nearby resources, but if students can’t access them, what’s the point?
The University has no control over the fares of New Jersey Transit or Megabus, but it could facilitate a more cost effective and efficient way for students to get to the city.
Rachel Kennedy is a freshman from Dedham, Mass. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.