On March 14, Temple launched its new on-demand evening shuttle service—Flight—to provide students and faculty rides to their homes and various locations on Main Campus.
The Temple News previously reported that Flight replaced Temple’s old shuttle systems—TUr Door and Owl Loop. Unlike those services, Flight picks up students from their residences off campus through an app, called TapRide.
Jim Creedon, senior vice president for construction, facilities and operations said Flight costs the university the same as TUr Door and Owl Loop—about $600,000 annually. Another $16,000 is used for software licenses because the service operates like Uber.
“We wanted to improve service,” Creedon said. “But we didn’t really have the ability to spend any more money on it. So we were able to implement this Flight service, make it more efficient, but also keep the spending where it was.”
During the shuttle’s first week of service, students on campus told The Temple News they were experiencing problems as they attempted to request rides through the app.
Amy Brown, a first-year graduate environmental engineering major, believes users will get frustrated with the app due to the inaccurate arrival times of the shuttle.
“On the app itself, it gives you an estimated time of arrival but it’s not necessarily true,” Brown said. “For example, it keeps recalculating. It’ll say ‘estimated time of arrival five minutes.’ And that it will go down within that five minutes and say ‘one minute is your estimated time of arrival,’ and then it will recalculate again and say ‘five minutes.’”
“The app seems a little glitchy,” added Johana Rahman, a senior public health major. “My location wasn’t popping up on the phone at all, even though I was typing it in [on TapRide].”
Mark Gottlieb, facilities superintendent at Temple, was out helping students use Flight during the shuttle’s first week of service. He said he hasn’t yet investigated the problem with the app to give a definitive answer on the issue.
Student Body President Ryan Rinaldi said either students or the driver could have accidently cancelled their requested ride when it popped up as “cancelled” on the app. He added students must be patient with the new shuttle service.
“As the drivers continue to use the system, as more students know about the system, and use it and they work it into their schedules, the more efficient the system will be,” he said.
The service covers the areas of Cumberland Avenue to the north, 5th Street to the east, Girard Avenue to the south and 20th Street to the west. Rinaldi said there will be room for expanding the service in the future. He added TSG is working with the Temple Police and Gottlieb to expand the access of the service, and a kiosk will be built on campus for users to request rides.
“We’re working to get a computer in the lobby of both the Student Center and the TECH Center,” Rinaldi said.
Even though the service experienced problems during its first week, students believe the service will benefit them in the long run.
“It’s kind of new so of course it’s going to have it’s little kinks, it takes time,” said Imani Gordon, a sophomore biology major.
“It isn’t worse,” said Maria David, a graduate MBA student when comparing Flight to the previous systems. “Because I have waited for a way longer time in the earlier system. I’ve waited for even a half an hour and I didn’t get a ride … I think this is going to be efficient but it’s going to take some time.”
The new system was put in place for the ultimate safety of the students, Gottlieb said.
“This university for multiple reasons is concerned about the safety of its students at night,” he said. “And the challenges that are presented to the placement of this university and its particular environment make incumbent upon the university to take all of those things into consideration when providing transportation services … at night to students.”
Tom Ignudo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Ignudo5.