Flight users still seeing issues

After being introduced in Spring 2016, students still suffer from long wait times.

Flight, the Main Campus student shuttle service introduced in September, is still experiencing issues with pickups, leaving students frustrated with the service. MAX SIMONS FOR THE TEMPLE NEWS

Too many cancellations and long wait times have caused Campus Safety Services and Facilities Management to address continued dissatisfaction with Flight.

Flight was introduced in March 2016 to give students the option to get a ride directly from campus to their home without having to walk. The service almost immediately faced issues with slow arrival times.

Associate Director of Operations and Logistics at Temple Mark Gottlieb said TapRide, the app that students use to order Flight, uses algorithms to distribute services.

“The trips are distributed by algorithm to gather the most efficient use of the vehicles that are on the street,” Gottlieb said. “The trips are randomly assigned by a software system to ensure that both students and drivers are doing the least amount of time in transit and for that matter to ensure people that are waiting for buses have a chance to get picked up as quickly as possible.”

The average wait time for Flight is five to 10 minutes — a reasonable length, Gottlieb said.

Students, like Andrew Dada, a sophomore bioengineering major who lives on Main Campus, have experienced much longer waits, though.

“It’s not efficient enough,” Dada said. “They come at a slow time. Sometimes the bus drivers malfunction. The ride itself is fine but the system is bad.”

“It’s incumbent upon the university to provide a workable service,” Gottlieb said. “When we’re seeing that service levels are not where they should be, it’s a point of concern. We are concerned and working hard to make sure the bus company that provides service to the university is living up to their obligations.”

Improvement measures are being studied by DoubleMap, the company that owns Tapride, Gottlieb said, but the study is still in its beginning stages.

Eileen Bradley, the project coordinator for Campus Safety Services, said she would like to better understand the complications associated with Flight.

“We decided that we wanted to get a better evaluation of how the program was working,” Bradley said. “We’ll see what trends are there and how we can fix it because I want this to work for the students.”

Eight students selected by Campus Safety Services will act as “secret shoppers” to test the shuttle service and submit a Google Apps electronic report, Bradley said. A weekly briefing will inform Campus Safety on the trends of Flight. This will help to evaluate the strengths, weakness and major factors causing problems, she said.

Flight has five buses in circulation to service 2,000 rides per week, a slight increase in use from the old system, Gottlieb said. He added that there are not enough buses to function as quickly as Uber.

On-demand shuttle services are not new to universities around the country. University of Michigan and the University of Florida both use DoubleMap.

The University of Pennsylvania has its own evening shuttle service for its students and faculty. Rides that originate from the university’s main campus take students to another on-campus location, like a transit stop or drop them off-campus. On-demand shuttles transport students between off-campus locations within service boundaries. The shuttles are called at a hotline, where students tell the dispatcher where they are and where they need to go.

Flight replaced two previous transportation systems at Temple. TUr Door, which was for off-campus students, took students from the bus shelter on 12th Street near Polett Walk and dropped them off at their doorsteps. OWLoop, for on-campus students, picked students up from the same place and dropped them off at their residence halls.

Haley Proctor can be reached at haley.proctor@temple.edu.

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