By Michal Ann Morrison
Published: Monday, November 28, 2011
Students who dread the hassle of relying on public transportation every day can look forward to Transportation Services advancing bus technology. Tech-savvy students may soon be able to avoid difficulties associated with commuting to campus by simply using their smart phones.
June Broughton of Transportation Services said a mobile application is in the works that will allow students to track bus locations, time of arrival and the number of passengers on-board. She shied away from specifics, but said progress is being made on the technology and the application will be released "in the near future."
"In the meantime, the online tracking system can be a helpful tool," Broughton said. "We are still working on some of the features of the system, but are pleased to be able to offer this technology for use by our customers."
The application will be made possible through a GPS tracker installed on every bus that reports back to Transportation Services their location around campus, which will be visible on Google maps.
Erick Beck, director of web development for Texas A&M's Division of Marketing and Communications, manages the mobile website m.tamu.edu, another helpful tool which shows when busses for each route will be arriving at their next stop.
"We will continue to upgrade the apps, and more features will become available once the busses on campus are GPS-enabled," Beck said.
Even with 67 busses running on campus, the large number of students commuting to and from campus creates crowding and delays, and students can have a hard time finding a spot on the bus. Opinions about bus transportation vary among students.
Alyssa Perez, sophomore business major, said she cannot rely on the bus system.
"The bus system is horrible. It's so packed. There's no point in having times because they're never there at the right time," Perez said. "I definitely think there's room for improvement.".
She said she felt positive about the news that Transportation Services is developing a mobile application that uses technology to make riding the bus more efficient.
"[It] would be so helpful, instead of relying on set times and having to wait," Perez said. "It'd be nice to see where the busses actually are at any particular time."
Sara Mulvahill, junior elementary education major, said riding the bus is helpful but not always reliable.
"I took the bus all last year and I thought it was convenient, except when you're on the last stop when you might have to wait to get a spot," Mulvahill said. "You have to get there kind of early too."
Until the complete mobile application is finished, students can make use of the online tracking system that Transportation Services recently launched, where passengers can see real-time locations of the busses on each route. This can be found at transport.tamu.edu/busroutes.