With 347 scheduled trips each weekday, the TigerTransit bus network serves as a critical transportation service for students, faculty, staff, and local residents across Princeton, West Windsor, and Plainsboro. TigerTransit’s stops include both campus buildings, like the Friend Center and Firestone Library, and local destinations, such as the Princeton Medical Center and Palmer Square. In some cases, it provides the only options for fixed-route public transportation to these destinations.
Yet with six lines, 27 destinations, and thousands of bus trips each week, many Princeton students — especially undergraduates — are unfamiliar with TigerTransit’s free-to-ride bus service.
“I think most students [know] it exists, but most are unaware of its scheduling and routes,” George Tidmore ’26 told The Daily Princetonian.
In light of the new restrictions on personal electric vehicles, TigerTransit serves as one of a diminished number of ways to get around campus. The ‘Prince’ broke down TigerTransit’s routes and schedules and identified key trips of interest to undergraduate students to enable them to get around campus quicker.
Where does TigerTransit go?
The TigerTransit service consists of six routes, five of which operate on weekdays. For the purposes of this analysis, we excluded the Weekend Shopper as it is heavily used by undergraduates relative to other routes and does not operate during the academic week.
Some students believe that TigerTransit’s route network does not serve undergraduate students well. “The system seems more oriented towards graduate student housing locations,” said Tidmore, a Forbes resident. Tidmore remarked that he had never used the TigerTransit system during his time at Princeton.
“The routes are sufficient [and] cover most parts of campus,” said Helena Ploss ’26. “I do wish they had one going through campus [up and down Elm Drive] that I would definitely take if I didn’t have a bike.”
“There are no plans for TigerTransit to operate on Elm Drive in the near future,” Director of Transportation and Parking Services Charles Tennyson told the ‘Prince,’ though he did mention that the University is taking steps to restrict construction vehicles operating on Elm Drive for the benefit of pedestrians and bikers.
How much does it cost to ride?
TigerTransit is free at the point of use for all individuals. Riders must present a valid Princeton University ID to travel between Princeton Junction and campus on Route 4, but all other trips are free for use by the public.
Does TigerTransit stop near any dorms?
Most TigerTransit service is geared towards moving graduate students, faculty, and staff from transportation hubs and parking facilities to campus.
“What’s difficult is that, given where most undergraduate students live, students would still need to travel to a pickup spot,” Tidmore said.
Tennyson responded to the lack of service to undergraduate dorms by stating that “there are many stops on most TigerTransit routes that are located less than five minutes walking from undergraduate residences and other popular destinations adjacent to Elm Drive.” We looked at three of these stops for our analysis.
Princeton Station: TigerTransit Routes 4, 5, and the Weekend Shopper stop outside Wawa in the Princeton Railroad Station bus loop. This stop is adjacent to Forbes College and is a short walk from the halls in the rear of Whitman College.
Admissions Information Center: Routes 1, 4, 5, and the Weekend Shopper stop outside the Admissions Information Center inside the U-Store in both north and south directions. This stop is convenient for students in Mathey or Rockefeller Colleges, as well as those living in Upperclass halls in the West Campus Area (Lockhart, Foulke, Laughlin, etc.)
Goheen Walk at Washington: All routes but the Weekend Shopper provide service at the intersection of Goheen Walk and Washington Road near Fine and McDonnell Halls, though Route 5 only provides service in the southbound direction, taking riders toward Yeh. This stop is especially close to Scully Hall but is convenient for all halls in the Poe Field area, including New College West, Butler, and Yeh Colleges.
For which common trips is TigerTransit faster than walking?
We compared TigerTransit schedules to the walking times provided by Google Maps to see which trips are better accomplished by TigerTransit than walking alone. Our analysis is dependent on buses arriving according to their scheduled times, meaning that these trip times may not be completely accurate if buses are delayed.
To Friend Center and the E-Quad: When traveling from Forbes, the Rockefeller/Mathey area, or the Poe Field area (Butler/New College West/Yeh), TigerTransit is usually faster than walking, though this varies depending on the origin point.
From the Poe Field area, boarding Route 2 eastbound at Goheen Walk (Fine/McDonnell Halls) and taking it to the Friend Center stop is an 11-minute trip, four minutes faster than walking.
From the Mathey/Rockefeller area, boarding Route 1 eastbound at the U-Store and exiting at the Friend Center takes nine minutes, saving five minutes compared to walking. Note that only eight buses departing from the U-Store every 30 minutes between 7:22 a.m. and 10:52 a.m. deviate from the normal route along Washington Road to service the Friend Center and the E-Quad.
From Forbes College, boarding Route 4 northbound at Princeton Station and transferring to Route 1 eastbound at Firestone Library before getting off at the Friend Center yields a total travel time of 21 minutes, just a hair faster than the 22-minute walking time Google Maps estimates. Note that this itinerary depends upon the same eight eastbound Route 1 trips that deviate to the Friend Center and E-Quad, meaning that only eight Route 4 trips departing Princeton Station every 30 minutes from 7:11 to 10:41 a.m. make this connection possible.
“It was significantly faster than walking,” Dawood Virk ’25 said about using TigerTransit to get to the Friend Center from Forbes. “I believe after freshman year they changed the routes to no longer include a direct transport from [Princeton Station] to the Friend Center. They should definitely consider reinstating that route.”
Indeed, all TigerTransit routes once served the Friend Center, according to a 2021 route map obtained by the ‘Prince’ using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Today, just Routes 2, 5, and the Weekend Shopper serve the Friend Center, with eight Route 1 trips serving it and no service from Routes 3 or 4.
To Firestone Library: Forbesians can shave a minute off their travel time to Firestone by boarding Route 4 northbound at Princeton station and getting off at the Firestone Library stop on Nassau Street. This trip, which can also be used to reach upper campus destinations like East Pyne, takes 13 minutes. Note that return trips to Forbes require departing from Palmer Square or McCosh Walk.
To Scudder Plaza, JRR, and Robertson: Once again, Forbesians can make their trip across campus a tad faster by using TigerTransit. When traveling to the Scudder Plaza area — the intersection of McCosh Walk and Washington Road near Robertson, McCosh, and Wooten Halls — riders can board Route 4 northbound from Princeton Station and exit the bus at the McCosh Walk/Washington Road stop. This trip takes 14 minutes, again a minute faster than walking alone.
Mathey, Rockefeller, and west campus upperclass students can also use Route 4 or Route 1 from the U-Store to Scudder Plaza, but this trip does not save time compared to walking.
To Graduate College: Those on the west side of campus, including Mathey and Rockefeller Colleges, can travel to Graduate College and its far-flung dining hall by boarding TigerTransit’s Route 1 westbound at the U-Store and exiting at the last stop on the route, Graduate College. This trip takes nine minutes in total, saving four minutes compared to walking.
Those in the Poe Field area can also use Route 1 westbound from Goheen Walk (Fine/McDonnell Halls) to travel to Graduate College, but this trip takes as long or longer than walking.
To 185 Nassau Street: Downcampus residents can save time when traveling to 185 Nassau Street (the old LCA) and destinations on the east side of Nassau, including Hoagie Haven and Ficus, by using TigerTransit. Riders can board Route 2 eastbound from Goheen Walk (Fine/McDonnell Halls) and get off at Nassau/Charlton Streets. This trip takes eight minutes, almost half of the walking time.
To the Witherspoon/Jackson Neighborhood: The Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood is known for its rich history and restaurant establishments like Local Greek. Located a half mile north of Nassau and even further from downcampus makes it a trek for students to reach, however. For downcampus residents, boarding Route 3 northbound at Goheen Walk and taking it to its terminus at Merwick takes 19 minutes, compared to 25 minutes of walking.
When does TigerTransit run and how often does it arrive?
TigerTransit Routes 1, 2, 3, and 4 operate only on weekdays, while Route 5 operates on both weekends and weekdays. Routes 1 through 4 begin service at roughly at 7:00 a.m., with the last Route 1 and 2 buses departing their terminals between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m., while the final Route 3 and 4 buses depart their terminals between 6:00 and 6:40 p.m.
Buses on Routes 1 and 2 run every 10 to 15 minutes in each direction most of the day. In the evening, Route 1 and 2 are supplanted by Route 5, the evening circulator, which runs every 30 minutes between 7:00 p.m. and midnight on weekdays and between 5:00 p.m. and midnight on weekends.
Buses on Route 3 operate every 30 minutes during service hours. Route 4 buses operate every 30 minutes between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., and after 6:00 p.m., every 15 minutes between 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 and 6:00 p.m.
TigerTransit buses operate on regular intervals ranging between 10 and 30 minutes. We looked at departures from three stops close to residential buildings during peak morning hours to make recalling TigerTransit schedules easier.
From Princeton Station near Forbes, northbound Route 4 buses towards academic buildings depart at :11, :26, :41, and :56 on the hour. For example, buses depart Princeton Station at 9:11 a.m., 9:26 a.m., 9:41 a.m., and 9:56 a.m. during the morning rush.
From Goheen Walk near Fine and McDonnell Halls, eastbound Route 2 buses towards the Friend Center, E-Quad, and Fisher Hall depart at times ending in :8 from 8:00 a.m. to noon.
“Bus schedules don’t seem to align with class times,” said Ploss, “so if I want to get up Washington for a class at the top of the hill I’m better off walking [or] biking.”
Indeed, many TigerTransit schedules line up poorly with class times. For example, eastbound Route 1 buses arrive at Goheen Walk near McDonnell and Fine at :44 and :02 on the hour — either too early or too late to be useful for classes that start on the hour.
How can I track TigerTransit arrivals and get service alerts?
TigerTransit feeds data to the TripShot app to provide riders with live information about bus schedules, locations, and delays. It would appear that Transportation and Parking Services no longer provides TigerTransit updates over X (commonly known as Twitter), as the @PrincetonTPS account has been inactive since October 2022.
How can I use TigerTransit in conjunction with NJTransit?
While TigerTransit primarily operates around the periphery of campus, it also extends into West Windsor and Plainsboro Townships. Route 4 extends to Princeton Junction, meaning that it can be used as a fare-free alternative to the Princeton Shuttle, commonly known as the Dinky. The ticket price from New York Penn Station to Princeton Station is $17.75, but the price to Princeton Junction is $16.00. Using TigerTransit instead of the Dinky means that travelers can save $3.50 on a round trip to New York or Newark Liberty International Airport.
We used our previous data on the travel times between New York and Princeton and examined how using TigerTransit instead of the Dinky would affect travel times. On average, return trips from New York Penn Station to Princeton Station are lengthened by eight minutes when using Route 4 versus the Dinky. However, Route 4 extends past Princeton Station, providing direct service from Princeton Junction to the U-Store, Firestone Library, and Washington Road, meaning travelers may save time using Route 4 overall by shaving off walking time from Princeton Station.
Can TigerTransit be used to access athletic facilities?
TigerTransit does not provide direct service to athletic facilities like Jadwin Gym or Princeton Stadium. However, all routes stop at Goheen Walk, which is a six-minute walk from Jadwin, and Routes 1 and 4 service Stadium Drive Garage, which is a four-minute walk from Jadwin. TigerTransit may be used as a means to reach these destinations, which is especially notable in light of the University’s recent strengthened regulations on the use of e-scooters and e-bikes, which are frequently used by athletes to get across campus to Jadwin.
We examined the travel times from the Rockefeller/Mathey area, Forbes, and Palmer Square to destinations like Jadwin Gym and the Shea Rowing Center. Our analysis found that using TigerTransit offered no significant time savings compared to walking due to the relative distance of TigerTransit stops from athletic facilities and the convoluted route buses take around campus.
According to Tennyson, TigerTransit’s bus fleet will be all-electric by the end of 2023. He also noted that the buses whisk between 1,500 and 2,000 students, faculty, campus employees, and community members around the Princeton area every weekday.
By combing through its schedules, TigerTransit’s utility to undergraduate students can be revealed as a frequent shuttle around the periphery of campus.
Ryan Konarska is an associate Data editor and a News contributor for the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached at ryankonarska[at]princeton.edu.