By Adam Harris
If you’re wondering where the after-hours Baylor shuttle is, there’s an app for that.
The late-night shuttle, new to the university this year, runs from 6:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday.
This lets students see the location of the bus through a new mobile application that can be downloaded on Android phones and iPhones for free.
Matt Penney, director of parking and transportation services at Baylor, said the new app is a “game-changer.”
The app, available for download under the name “Ride Systems,” was developed by a company of the same name.
Once the app is opened, users can select “Baylor” on the list of services. Students can then see a map which updates every ten seconds on the late-night route.
“The company does work with municipal systems and medical centers,” Penney said.
He said the app is something that will hopefully increase the use of the bus system.
An older system was put in place that updated the bus location every minute.
“On a 20-minute route, a minute is a long time to not know where the bus is,” Penney said.
“Ride Systems” has a 10-second refresh rate of the shuttle’s location, which was a major factor in deciding on the developer.
“Once you invest in the technology, you’re stuck with it. So we wanted to get a good quality service,” Penney said.
Penney works closely with the director of service development at Waco Transit, Natalie James. James said she looks forward to the element of safety the app creates.
“Baylor designed this route with security in mind,” James said.
With the app, James can see things from an administrative view. She can track the shuttle’s speed, as well as the location and timeliness of the bus.
The app is being used on the after hours shuttle as a kind of pilot program. Penney said they hope to fully implement the system in fall 2013.
Although the after-hours shuttle will be the only vehicle that will run with a GPS beacon, Waco Transit is prepared for unforeseen issues.
“GPS is installed on the bus and a back-up shuttle in case it goes down,” Penney said.
James said the main focus of the app is the reliability of a safe ride home.
“Baylor is becoming more of a bus culture,” Penney said. The Baylor University Shuttle has seen an increase in riders since last year. Penney said that around 8,000 more riders took the bus in August and September this year than they did at that time last year.
“Because our ridership is growing, we want to add amenities,” Penney said. Penney said the GPS feature will offer a new level of comfort for riders of the bus.
The app is available for download at www.baylorshuttle.com, as well as both the Android app market and iPhone’s app store.