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Editorial: Technical difficulties with GPS bus tracking need to be resolved

Published: Sunday, February 2, 2014

Updated: Sunday, February 2, 2014 22:02

For the last several months, the GPS tracking system for the UConn buses has had ongoing technical glitches. On any given day, about half of the buses fail to show up on the tracker and some entire lines appear to have no working buses. UConn Transportation Services has failed to correct these problems, causing unnecessary trouble for students.

 The GPS on the only Orange Line bus has seldom worked since the middle of last semester. Additionally, even on the occasions when the Purple Line GPS shows up on the map, the tracker often reports that it is currently arriving at every single stop simultaneously. Orange Line is the only bus that stops at North Campus, while Purple Line is the only route to stop across the street at MSB. These problems combined make it almost impossible for residents of North and Northwest to have any idea when the next bus is coming. They are forced to either wait in the cold for up to 20 minutes with no idea when the bus will come or walk to their destination, however far away it might be.

Additionally, the GPS app created by Transportation Services has major glitches. Most importantly, whenever arrival times for the Yellow Line or Green Line are loaded on the iPhone, the app crashes before it can display the times. This glitch forces students to either use a third-party app or not track those buses from their phones.

This glitch actually affects all the lines. It is sometimes necessary to first open the bus time for Yellow or Green Line and then swipe to view another line at that stop. For instance, loading the arrival time for the Red Line at Engineering Eastbound requires first opening the arrival time for Yellow Line, and then changing which line is being displayed. However, the app frequently crashes before users can get that far. Complaints about this have been noted in both the app reviews and on the Transportation Facebook page for several months, but nothing has been done about it.

On a typical day, students are unable to track a sizeable portion of the buses using the GPS system, paid for through student fees. This renders the expensive system useless.

When students can find out when the bus is going to arrive, they can wait inside a building before heading out to the bus stop a minute or two in advance. This way, they are inside where it is warm instead of outside in the cold and wind. Without the tracking, they are forced to wait in the cold the whole time. If they wait inside until they see the bus, it will often leave before they get to the stop. Even when the GPS tracking is functional, the official iPhone app has major glitches that have not been resolved for several months.

Transportation Services needs to fix these major problems immediately. They have gone on for far too long.  

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