Flight introducing improvements to schedule

Students complained about slow arrival times for Flight buses.

The app TapRide is used to request the Temple Flight Bus on Main Campus. | MICHAEL SOTTILE TTN

The number one concern for Mark Gottlieb, facilities superintendent of service operations at Temple, is student safety. That’s why he worked with Temple Student Government to create the new transportation system, Flight.

Flight takes students home from locations on Main Campus, and vice versa, by using an app called TapRide.

Gottlieb saw the numbers of riders on the previous transportation services, TUr Door and Owl Loop, drop steadily over the years, so he knew Temple needed to revise these services with a different model.

Gottlieb first got the idea for an app-based ride service in April 2014, and Ryan Rinaldi, senior finance major and student body president, came up with a similar idea in 2016. The two decided to collaborate to create Flight, and took the idea to President Theobald and Temple Facilities Management.

Both Rinaldi and Gottlieb have taken the service, and had good experiences. But they understand not all students have had positive experiences with the app.

“We didn’t really know what the issues would be until we started running it,” Gottlieb said. “We have to continually observe the capacity of the system and what we can do to help alleviate cancellations and delays.”

One of the biggest complaints from riders, Gottlieb said, has been about the time it takes for a bus to arrive. When there’s only four buses, he said a wait time is to be expected.

Rashik Akkhar, freshman electrical engineering major, takes Flight home almost every night.

“You have to make sure you order a ride 30 minutes before, because there’s only four buses for the whole campus,” Akkhar said.

“The bus took about 25-30 minutes to get there, and it took another 10 minutes to get to my dorm,” said Tyler Millhouse, a freshman kinesiology major.

Gottlieb is trying to fix this by augmenting Flight with an additional van at the bus shelter called the “TECH Express.” By servicing the TECH Center directly, the TECH Express will reduce wait times and cancellations.

The van won’t be connected to the app, but “every half hour it’ll be there to take students home as quickly as possible,” Gottlieb said.

Next semester, Gottlieb hopes to combat the problem of wait time with the addition of more buses. Flight is also introducing a reservation system, so that students can reserve a time to be picked up in advance.

Gottlieb said the university is committed to Flight, and it has a lot of potential and room to change. Temple has promoted the service during Experience Temple days when prospective students are visiting campus.

Gottlieb believes that issues are being compared unfairly to the old system, which also had problems.

“People have short memories sometimes, but that’s OK,” Gottlieb said. “They forgot there were also wait delays for the old service.”

As a suggestion for improving Flight, Akkhar said more buses should be added to transport students from stop to stop.

“If you introduce more cars, maybe 10, each car will be less busy so it’ll be quicker,” Akkhar said.

Overall, Akkhar thinks Flight is a positive step for the safety of Temple students.

“The only disadvantage is the time,” he said.

Millhouse also sees the value in Flight, despite its time disadvantage.

“I see a lot of my friends starting to use it now,” Millhouse said. “I definitely think it’s valuable for people who live off campus or are studying late at night who want a safe ride home.”

Rinaldi said the university is dedicated to the continued improvement of Flight.

“The university has made this a major initiative of theirs to work out the kinks and make it better,” Rinaldi said. “Flight will be here for the long haul.”

Tsipora Hacker can be reached at tsipora.hacker@temple.edu.

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