On Monday, Campus Operations introduced the TECH Express, a new shuttle that will operate in conjunction with Flight. A large number of night-time requests from students at the TECH Center caused Temple Student Government and Campus Operations to add to the fleet.
The shuttle will take students to their off-campus residences or to residence halls.
The TECH Express is scheduled to stop at the bus shelter across the street from the TECH Center every half hour, according to Flight’s page on the Campus Operations website. Students can no longer make Flight requests from the TECH Center because they will be able to board the bus without a reservation.
The TECH Express will also pick students up from the Temple Sports Complex once every hour and will drop them off at Pearson and McGonigle halls.
“Flight seemingly is not able to cover the large demand we are getting from the student body during the evening hours,” said Mark Gottlieb, the associate director of Operations and Logistics. “Under the current model, we’re unable to respond to those requests in an efficient manner and it was determined by the data that we had one location in particular, the bus shelter across from the TECH Center, that was getting the most calls.”
The service will operate from 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 5:30 p.m. to midnight on weekends for the rest of the semester, Gottlieb said.
“Facilities, Campus Safety and TSG have been meeting regularly to look at Flight performance and to find ways of improving it,” Student Body President Aron Cowen said. “We realize that the wait times can become unacceptably long at times and there’s other concerns with the system that students are expressing. We want to make it better.”
There were more requests for pickup from the TECH Center than from the nine other top pickup spots combined, Cowen added. TSG’s and Campus Operations’ and solution was to provide a routine service from the TECH Center on a regular, rotating timeline.
“We wanted to try to relieve some of the strain on the Flight system and hopefully reduce response times,” Cowen said.
The TECH Express vehicle is a single white van, which will seat 14 students and one driver.
“There’s only a certain kind of vehicle we can use in this service given the narrow streets we have to navigate around this campus,” Gottlieb said. “We do have buses that are a little larger that seat about 20 people and we’re prepared to use those if we have to. We can’t use much larger because they simply won’t fit down the streets.”
Using a smaller vehicle for this service will enable the TECH Express to move quickly through the streets and will increase the speed at which it can complete routes, Cowen said.
“We think the van will be enough but depending on how people respond, we’ve actually worked out some contingencies for how to relieve pressure on the TECH Express van,” he added.
The possible plans include increasing the regularity of service to the TECH Center and diverting Flight buses to manage the volume, Gottlieb said.
The TECH Express will be reviewed at the end of the semester, and there is a possibility that it will reappear in Fall 2017, he added.
“Overall, our priority is finding options for students getting to and from campus safely,” Cowen said. “This is one of the options we have found.”
Amanda Lien can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @amandajlien.