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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Campus

Bus times: There’s an app for that


For students with time valued too much to be wasted sitting at a bus stop, using the UH bus system with three routes and nearly 20 stops across campus can be time-consuming and frustrating.

Students like Anita Kanagalingam, a sociology sophomore, won't have to wait hopelessly for a shuttle. They'll be able to better anticipate the buses arrival with the new smartphone app.

Students like Anita Kanagalingam, a sociology sophomore, won’t have to wait hopelessly for a shuttle. They’ll be able to better anticipate the buses arrival with the new smartphone app. | Mary Dahdouh/The Daily Cougar

For this reason, Parking and Transportation Services has released a new bus tracking application called Cougar Trax that allows students, faculty and staff to access the next arrival time of a bus on any smart phone or website through GPS tracking.

“The core of this product has been running at major transit agencies and universities for many years,” said Robert Browand, the director of PTS. “Now the website portion was recently customized for the University of Houston.”

Although there was a similar application in the past through a system called Nextbus, the University had decided to create Cougar Trax through a different company, ETA Transit Systems, as the bus system switched to a new shuttle provider all together.

“I’m glad UH decided to create an app like this,” said sociology sophomore Anita Kanagalingam. “I always felt like I wasted so much time waiting for my bus to come and was constantly frustrated when I would arrive at a bus stop just as my bus was driving away.”

Through the app, students can see a map of their route, as well as the position of any shuttle buses that are on their way and their arrival time to a specific stop.

“Students can check the app or website from their class, library or dorm room to see when the next bus will arrive so they can get to the stop on time,” Browand said.

With the help of this app, PTS is hoping to make riding the bus easier and more efficient for both students and staff.

“I think it’s neat,” said Rose Garcia, a history junior. “You don’t have to wait anymore, so riding the bus around campus can be faster. It’s convenient because if you’re at one stop and the bus is already at the next and you’re in a rush, you can make the decision to just walk.”

Along with a new bus tracking application and new shuttle buses, the service has updated its routes to include the Campus Loop, Eastwood/Energy Research Park Line and Outer Loop.

“I think I’m most excited about being able to wait inside now for the bus,” Kanagalingam said. “I don’t have to wait outside in the rain or the freezing cold anymore, and that’s definitely nice.”

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