For Saint Louis University students, Christmas came early this year in the form of the Billiken Shuttle tracking system.
Thanks to Express Transportation Services (ETS) and Doublemap online application, students are now able to track the SLU Billiken shuttles 24/7. The new system ultimately allows for a more efficient use of time by students, who no longer have to spend their time waiting at the shuttle stops.
Through a collaboration of efforts, SLU Transportation Services and ETS installed DoubleMap into all four of the campus shuttles. Doublemap is a real-time GPS bus tracking service that provides a web application for public transit users and allows for more efficient transportation management by transit authorities.
“The new shuttle schedules and the addition of the tracking were presented to the Presidents Coordinating Council, which was approved over the summer,” stated William Devers, assistant vice president of service operations. “The system started implementation this past summer by ETS, [who] made sure that the system was up and ready to go right as classes began.”
The idea for the tracking system was sparked by a student shuttle survey performed by a student group last year. The civic affairs committee of SGA approached Transportation Services to discuss the idea.
“The idea was perfect timing, since our shuttle contract was up for renewal,” commented Devers. “We also liked this idea because the shuttles now provide us with digital tracking of our passengers at each stop location, notifications of traffic delays and real time notification for riders of the arrival of the shuttle buses.”
Shuttle locations include the Billiken Loop, Grand Shuttle and Scott Hall campuses. The Grand Shuttle now operates until 7 pm in order to accommodate students with evening classes.
The new shuttle contract involved slight funding adjustments for the overall shuttle program, but was included in the current hourly rate being paid to ETS.
“Once we decided to award the contract to ETS, we partnered with ITS to include the application tracking ability into the SLU mobile app,” said Devers. “All of this was done within our current budget and no additional spending was requested, except the addition of adding the Scott Hall shuttle.”
The system thus far has received nothing but positive feedback.
“We are expecting an increase in ridership in the shuttle programs, which will further our SLUstainability efforts,” reported Devers. “Everyone seems to love the application, and we are so thrilled that this project, along with the adjustment of the shuttle schedules, have been positively received by the SLU community.”
SLU hopes to make the new tracking system permanent, but at the moment it remains part of the three year contract agreement with ETS.