University of Connecticut Transportation Services is set to launch a new bus tracking phone application next Monday with more functionality and data collection abilities.
The app, called TransLoc Rider, allows students to favorite their most used stops, see three arrival times, see rider counts and set notifications for when the bus will arrive, according to Transportation Services.
“In the fall, there was a general discontent with the shuttle services,” Dwight Atherton, Parking Services manager, said. “Mike Jednak, associate vice president of Facilities Operations and Building Services, spoke to students and promised that the shuttle services would be improved going forward.”
Jednak promised there would be a new bus tracking system in place by the spring semester, equipped with automatic passenger count, according to Atherton.
“It was left for transportation services to really fill that promise, and we found a new bus tracking system,” Atherton said.
Transportation Services landed on Passio Technologies (http://passiotech.com/), which Atherton said will give them more accurate data in real time.
“We [now have] reports that allow us to make real time decisions about how the system is operating and [we] use that data to plan for the future,” Atherton said.
Katharine Otto, shared transportation planner of Windham and UConn, said the new app has much-improved data collection capabilities compared to the old system.
“The old system, every hour they would tell us how many people were on the line, and now we’re getting way more accurate information,” Otto said.
Otto said rider counts are necessary for transportation services to provide enough busses to carry enough people.
Atherton said Transportation Services often receives emails about insufficient service and buses not arriving on time.
“We will be able to look to see if that is actually true. And if it is true, to what extent,” Atherton said. “There is accountability for us, the operator, and there is better information to access how broad the impacts of the concern actually is.”
The development process started in October and was followed by training with Transportation Services faculty.
“We had to get through the state contracting process within a few months,” Atherton said. “There was certainly an efficacy about the process that lead us to choose [Passio].”
Last Monday, a small group of students were given access to the app to help Transportation Services work out any bugs, Otto said.
“Our more frequent riders showed an interest and cared about transportation and how it moves forward,” Otto said. “We [wanted to] involve them and collaborate to make the system better.”
Otto said the “beta users” have provided useful feedback, and Transportation Services is working to improve functionality before the launch on Monday.
“We are working with the company to make refinements to reduce the amount of [bus] dropouts [on the map] that occur,” Atherton said.
Atherton said the old system will be phased out by the end of this academic year.
“We don’t want to disrupt any of our current customers,” Atherton said. “But we will want to strongly encourage people to use the new app now, so when they get here in the fall, it will be business as usual, and easier for them.”
Atherton said the app seems like a seamless service but had a lot go in to it.
“The shuttle service is something that is used by the entire community, and it needs to be useful for the entire community,” Atherton said.
Ashley Anglisano is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.