FLIGHT ridership remains stagnant since last Fall

Temple will have a better understanding of ridership in winter when it’s cold.

FLIGHT, Temple University’s nighttime shuttle bus service, is experiencing similar ridership comparable to this time last year, after the service was redesigned last month amid concerns about FLIGHT’s efficiency as an on-demand service. 

On Sept. 2, FLIGHT completed 119 rides, in comparison to Sept. 3, 2021, which saw 142 rides, according to university data. Similar to last year, FLIGHT completed more than 100 rides per day during weekends.  

The university expects to have a better understanding of FLIGHT’s ridership in the winter when students use the service for safety and to avoid cold weather. Mark Gottlieb, associate director of operations and logistics, declined The Temple News’ request for comment about FLIGHT’s current progress. 

The university officially reintroduced FLIGHT on Aug. 20 as a fixed-route system, meaning the shuttle picks up and drops off students daily in 15 minutes intervals between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. at almost every intersection within Campus Safety Service’s patrol zone.  

“Fifteen minutes is the longer estimate,” said Stephen Orbanek, a university spokesperson. “So, it could be 10 minutes, but 15 minutes is intended to be kind of the max. So far, they haven’t received a lot of feedback saying that folks are not showing up on time.” 

The relaunch came in response to heightened concerns from students about long wait-imes and limited capacity in FLIGHT’s previous on-demand format, which required students to use an app to request a door-to-door ride. The university consulted with a national transit company, SEPTA and industrial and systems engineering majors, who based their senior project on improving FLIGHT, before making changes.  

Grace Hurley, a senior secondary education and social studies education major, felt that TransLoc, the app students use for FLIGHT, is useful but not always reliable because the platform does not show the exact location of the bus and the shuttle often stops on Pollet Walk for up to 10 minutes. 

“I feel like it’s not as convenient because if it’s not coming right when I want it, I’m not going to take it,” Hurley said. “And it doesn’t drop me off right at my house, so I have to walk a little bit alone.” 

Michaela Guthrie, a sophomore dance major, has typically waited between five to 20 minutes for a shuttle to arrive and nearly half an hour at peak times during weekend evenings. 

Students can use TransLoc to see FLIGHT’s stops on both the North and South Loop. The North Loop services Diamond Street, 18th Street, 12th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue. The South Loop has stops within Cecil B. Moore to Master Street between 18th and Broad Street, Oxford and Jefferson Street between Broad and 13th Street and Oxford and Diamond Street between 13th and 12th Street.  

For Hurley, who lives outside of the loops, the fixed routes are not as convenient as the previous door-to-door system. 

Shuttles run throughout Temple’s patrol zone but some students may need to return home using SEPTA or walk the rest of the way. 

“I would say it’s more convenient if you’re going to campus and if you live near a stop,” said Jenna Doran, a senior psychology and English double major. “If you live outside of a stop, it might be less convenient, but there are a lot of stops that it’s pretty easy to get close to a stop.” 

However, the fixed route system makes Guthrie feel safe during their commute home because of the consistent pickup times. 

Guthrie finds the system to be timely and user-friendly for drivers and students alike, she said. 

“I’d say that I’ve seen improvements, like that they definitely listen to Temple students and creating a solid route for the actual system to work better,” Guthrie said.  

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