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GPS service helps students track shuttles

Contributing Writer

Published: Saturday, November 26, 2011

Updated: Sunday, November 27, 2011 16:11

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Students can now track UCF shuttle buses via a GPS system through their phones. The system was developed by ETA Transit Systems and launched Nov. 14.

UCF students now no longer have to play the "shuttle guessing game" while waiting outside for their shuttle to finally show up. They now have the ability to track UCF shuttle buses via a GPS system through their phones.

The idea for a shuttle GPS system was suggested before and was a platform point for Student Government Association President Matthew McCann and Vice President Adam Brock.

This system was developed by ETA Transit Systems and launched Nov. 14.

Andy Rampersad, the assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services at UCF, said the GPS data will enhance the successful UCF shuttle service, making it even more attractive for students.

"They won't have to guess when the next shuttle will arrive," Rampersad said. "They can quickly get an estimate for the next arrival time at their favorite stop."

This feature becomes very handy for students who depend on shuttle buses to get to and from school and home. In the past two years, according to UCF Parking and Transportation, more than two million rides have been provided by the shuttles, 35 buses that offer service to and from 17 nearby complexes and main campus. There are also shuttles that provide service between UCF's main campus and the Rosen College of Hospitality Management, and the Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona.

The GPS system is not an application that can be downloaded on the phone, however. Students who wish to track the shuttle are able to visit an official website for the system that can be accessed on any phone that has Internet capabilities. Students can log onto http://ucfmobile.etaspot.net in order to track the shuttles. On the website, students may also save their favorite stops.

Rampersad said the GPS systems on the 35 shuttles send position updates to a wireless network, which relays the data to the website every 10 seconds, making it an accurate system.

Sophomore computer engineering student Ikenna Acholonu has experienced the system's accuracy firsthand.

Acholonu uses the GPS system on the Verizon HTC ThunderBolt phone quite often.

"I use it every day [for] Route 2 and Route 4," Acholonu said.

Acholonu said the GPS system helps him to plan out his day and his route to school.

"If you're at your house and you're going to be late, you can check," Acholonu said. "If [the shuttle] is 15 minutes away, you can stay home and at six minutes you can walk outside and not be waiting in the hot sun."

Acholonu has found that the shuttles have been only a minute or two off estimated arrival and departure times — as long as the shuttle uses the GPS system.

With the success of the GPS system on the shuttle buses, UCF Parking and Transportation services may plan to expand it. Although currently unavailable, according to Rampersad, incorporating KnightLynx buses, the weekend student-friendly bus system sponsored by SGA, may be considered in the future. In the meantime, UCF students now have no excuse to miss shuttle buses thanks to the ability to follow them on their phones and computers.

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