When Marshall Mosher proposed the RouteShout mobile application as a freshman Student Government Association member, he didn’t expect the app would still have bugs four years later.
But it does.
Mosher said he expected the app to be completed in his sophomore – maybe even junior — year. Now he’s a fifth-year triple major in the public administration masters program – and the app has yet to be perfected.
Morgan Delhey, a sophomore from Kennesaw majoring in social studies education and political science, said she used RouteShout last year, but stopped because of its inaccuracy.
“It got worse later in the semester,” she said. “The buses were often early or late. I don’t use it now because it’s always wrong and I’ve just memorized the times.”
The app usually uses “scheduled” arrival times, meaning it doesn’t take into account buses that are late, early or not coming at all. This has proven frustrating for students that depend on the bus system to get around UGA’s 759-acre main campus.
Mosher agreed the system is not as accurate as he wanted it to be.
“It’s not 100 percent — it’s not as on point as what it will be with the location system,” he said. “But at least it’s an estimate. That’s better than nothing.”
Mosher also said he understood why this project may experience some delay.
“I don’t think there has ever been a large project that’s finished early,” he said.
Nevertheless, he said he didn’t think the system would be “as off as it has been.”
Ron Hamlin, manager of the Campus Transit System, said he is seeking to improve the application as soon as possible.
“Our goal is to get the best information we have at the time into the hands of customers,” he said, adding that GPS tracking is available on transit.uga.edu.
While that is true, as of Thursday afternoon, The Red & Black found few buses reporting onine — in fact, only one out of all the East-West buses seemed to be reporting its location.
Hamlin admitted there has been confusion regarding the difference between scheduled times and estimated arrivals. He explained that when the app reports a “scheduled time,” it isn’t using GPS tracking, but if it says “estimated time,” the GPS tracking is up and running, and the information should be more accurate.
As of Nov. 6, Hamlin told The Red & Black he believed the GPS system was shut off.
Although the technology should physically be in every UGA bus at this time, there seem to have been some technical issues plaguing the system.
“We’re trying to get everything resolved here,” Hamlin said, reiterating that he wants to provide the most accurate possible information to students. “We have to get all the buses up and working, [and] we’ve still got a couple buses where that’s not working. We’re dealing with roughly 225 drivers and we’re training new ones all the time, so it’s an ongoing process so that everyone knows what they’re doing.”
Hamlin couldn’t give an exact date as to when the system would be completely operational, but said he hoped it would be sooner rather than later.
Hitting an operational status could put UGA on par with other large SEC schools.
Many of those other schools use a company called TransLoc, as opposed to RouteShout. UGA uses RouteShout, Mosher said, because it promised all the features that he and Hamlin wanted at the lowest price.
Those features included a program that could show a map of campus, the user’s location, potential routes, buses’ locations along those routes, estimated arrival times and the ability to run on a mobile phone.
In the future, Mosher and Hamlin said they hope to go above and beyond their original plan by putting TV screens at major stops so students don’t have to pull it up on their phones.
But they said it all comes down to creating the most useful possible system for students.
“Having [the GPS component] as a service is really the main initial thing that we wanted,” Mosher said. “Of course, since that’s the part that takes longest time to implement, we wanted to at least offer something to students — so now we’re in a transition period between having nothing and having the full thing. It’s not perfect, but at least we have something.”