UH has invested $70,000 into its transportation system to make the shuttle services more convenient for students on campus.
Next Bus, a GPS based shuttle system, is a service that provides students and faculty with the whereabouts of UH shuttles and gives precise arrival times.
Director of Parking and Transportation Bob Browand said students and faculty will be able to access NextBus.com and see when a shuttle will arrive at their respective bus stop with accurate predictions.
“UH has had a shuttle system for the past 17 years and now we have an adequate system that should be convenient for everyone,” Browand said. “Before, it was hard to manage; we didn’t know what times buses would arrive, and now we do. Each bus is equipped with a GPS system that updates every 45 seconds for accuracy.”
Students who ride the shuttles on a regular basis are optimistic about the new GPS operated system. Sociology junior Megan Pavageau, a resident at Bayou Oaks, said she will use the new system to get to class on time.
“Before Next Bus, I would never know when the shuttle would pick me up, and it often ran late, but I think the new system will be more helpful, because now I will know the shuttle will be at my apartment and my daily schedule will not be interrupted due to late shuttles,” Pavageau said.
Engineering sophomore Gabriella Koenig is also excited about UH’s new investment.
“I have been wondering where my student fees go. This is something I don’t mind paying for,” Koenig said. “Being able to find out when exactly the shuttle is coming will ensure that I actually get to class on time from now on.”
The University is charged $2,000 a month that pays for the airtime that transmits data from cell phones.
Not only is Web access offered, students can utilize their cell phones and send text messages to find out the next three arrivals of their bus.
“You can send a text message (to) 41411, and the number will text you back with arrival predictions. Students will also be able to set up text alerts, so they will know when to leave their respective areas and head to their bus stops,” Browand said.
Shuttles will be limited to only UH students and faculty, but Browand says that students and faculty will have to swipe their Cougar Cards to gain access to the shuttles as a safety precaution.
Biology junior Maryanna Wassef says it is reassuring to know that UH is spending money to keeps students safe.
“Making people show their IDs will increase the safety of student life,” Wassef said. “Limiting access to students will also ensure that student fees are being used to benefit UH students appropriately.”
Browand said that the swiping of cards is primarily a safety issue, but it helps the Department of Transportation obtain an estimate on how many people use the shuttle services.