UConn Transportation puts new GPS system online
UConn Transportation has activated ten new GPS units, which has allowed the bus tracker app to resume, clearing up much of the recent confusion amongst students.
Due to "big time problems with the GPS system over the last couple of semesters UConn transportation had to replace a lot of the units over winter break," Janet Freniere, Manager of Transportation Services at UConn, said.
The new systems, however, were not the instant fix that many hoped for. According to Freniere, "the old systems were with AT&T but we didn't realize that the new ones were with Sprint."
Due to this switch, UConn Transportation was forced to go through "quite a process," as Freniere describes it, before the new systems could be activated. This is the root of the cause for many of the troubles students have been experiencing since the start of the spring semester.
Although many students expect UConn Transportation to stay up to date with replacing their GPS units, it turns out there is no set time for these devices to expire.
"It's kind of hit or miss. Some of them have lasted the full three years we've had them while others have had a variety of different issues," Freniere said.
These GPS units, one located in each of the thirteen buses, are what connect the UConn transportation vehicles to the Bus Tracker app that many students use to plan their day to day trips across campus. If the unit in a specific bus is not operating, the bus will not show up on the app and therefore students will not be able to know when or if it is even coming. With the many GPS problems early in the semester, this problem was occurring all over campus.
If the bus tracker isn't working, there are other resources available to students. UConn transportation utilizes their facebook page, phone system and website to keep its users informed.
"We use the facebook page to send messages about buses that are shut down or route changes," Freniere said.
There is a set bus schedule that can be found at bus.uconn.edu.
"It is usually pretty accurate, although traffic can cause delays just as it can for anyone else," Freniere said.
The buses run within five or 10 minutes of the same scheduled time everyday, disregarding any accidents or shut downs.
If students are using the online schedule, it is good to keep in mind that "the blue and red lines are the two loops that usually have the most delays during the day," Freniere said. "They are the two routes we didn't change when we redid all the other routes a few years ago. The bus roots used to be big loops but now they back track on themselves, which is a lot more efficient."
Freniere also urges students to ask the driver if you are afraid you're getting on the wrong bus. Dispatchers are also available by phone. The recording will give you updates about the buses that are running and option 0 will allow anyone to speak directly to a UConn Transportation dispatcher.
GPS troubles are not the main cause for many of the routine delays or bus shut downs that occur throughout the semester, however.
Currently, UConn Transportation employs 90 student drivers that tend to work between 10 and 20 hours a week, according to Freniere.
"There are too many open shifts, it would be optimal to have 120 to 130 drivers if they are going to work 10 to 15 hours," Freniere said.
If the buses are to be running at their maximum efficiency, UConn Transportation needs more drivers. Driving buses is the highest paying student job on campus.
UConn Transportation is hoping by next fall they will have 120 drivers. If a student is interested, online applications can be found at bus.uconn.edu/employment.
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