Temple adds new East Loop to FLIGHT bus system

The East Loop goes as far west as 13th Street, east to 10th Street, south to Oxford and north to Diamond.

FLIGHT, Temple University’s nighttime shuttle bus service, is adding an East Loop to its route today. FILE / THE TEMPLE NEWS

FLIGHT, Temple University’s nighttime shuttle bus service, is adding an East Loop to its fixed-route system beginning today.

The East Loop, which will travel as far west as 13th Street, east to 10th Street, south to Oxford and north as Diamond, was created in response to feedback from Temple Student Government, said Mark Gottlieb, associate director of operations and logistics. A North loop and a South loop are in operation. 

The East Loop will include approximately 13 stops and add more shuttles, however, Gottlieb did not comment on how many shuttles will be used or the cost of adding them.

In August, Temple relaunched FLIGHT as a fixed-route system with 40 stops after students and parents expressed concern about the reliability of the previous request-based service. Shuttles pick up and drop off students daily at these stops approximately every 15 minutes between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Gottlieb is satisfied with the regularity of the fixed-route system. Three industrial and systems engineering majors outlined recommendations for improving FLIGHT for their senior design project. Temple used the students’ recommendations, as well as consultations with SEPTA’s Customized Community Transportation team and Nelson Nygaard, transportation consultants, to develop the new system. 

“We’ve never missed a person to pick up,” Gottlieb said. “We’ve never missed a schedule. It’s been a successful operation so far. I think it has been. We fulfilled every promise we made in terms of what we set out to do this. And the timeliness, the schedules. We’ve had no student-driver issues that I know of. I think it’s run very well so far.”

Brandon Li, a 2022 natural sciences alumnus, liked the fixed-route system better because he did not need to wait a while for his shuttle as he did with the previous service. He typically used the shuttle to visit his girlfriend’s house on 15th Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue from his house on 16th and Diamond.

“Usually three buses kind of like go back and forth throughout the route,” Li said. “If you miss one then you just wait like not too long of a time, like 16 minutes max, for the next one.”

FLIGHT has also operated with a 100 percent success rate so far during the 2022-23 academic year, meaning all rides that have been requested have been completed, Gottlieb added.

“Nobody’s been denied a ride on the service,” Gottlieb said. “Nobody’s missed a ride. Nobody’s rides have been canceled. Every person that approached to the service to get a ride has gotten the ride.”

The shuttle service’s team is currently compiling how many rides were completed this year in comparison to last year. 

At the beginning of the fall semester, FLIGHT was experiencing similar ridership to last year. Sept. 2, 2022 saw 119 rides completed in comparison to Sept. 3, 2021’s 142 completed rides.

In December 2021, students were frustrated with long wait times, especially on late nights and weekends. In November 2021, the university pledged to expand the availability of FLIGHT after the fatal shooting of a Temple student in November 2021. 

“The other service we all know wasn’t able to keep up with the demand, this service has not had that issue,” Gottlieb said.

Anita Szoke, a senior biology major, uses FLIGHT once a week to once every two weeks to move between campus and her apartment. Szoke had a faster experience with the older request-based system compared to the new one and does not always feel safe waiting at a stop for the next shuttle.

“The stops, they’re not exactly like where your house is, so you have to kind of walk a little bit to get to it,” Szoke said. “So that’s not very convenient. It might not be safe either because you have to walk to your place and things might happen within that time period from a stop to your house.”

Gottlieb said that he is receiving very little comment from students about the service and that students who want to give direct feedback can do so on FLIGHT’s website.

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