Students can now track SHUFLY on Web, mobile phone
The SHUFLY Shuttle Tracker, an online GPS map that allows riders to follow the routes of the campus shuttle in real time, has debuted for both regular Web and mobile browsing.
Riders can visit shuflyshuttle.com, or shuflyshuttle.com/m on their smart phones, and view the SHUFLY’s current route position, whether it is moving or not and when it is expected to arrive at its designated stops.
“It’s all done with a cell phone (running GPS software),” said Ann Szipszky, Parking Services Manager whose office oversees the service.
“The driver logs on at the start of a shift.”
Szipszky added that the Web site is operating on a 20-second delay, keeping the tracker accurate for riders.
The Web site appears similar to Google Maps in format, with a focus on the campus and South Orange. Routes are color-coded (morning, afternoon, late night and weekend days) and the page features arrival times in a chart on the right side.
The SHUFLY itself is identified as a moving icon around the colored routes and changes to note the driver is stopped.
A Twitter feed also runs across the top banner of the page and, according to Szipszky, will be used to provide updates if the shuttle is running late or encountering some serious problem.
Patrick Linfante, assistant vice president and director of Public Safety, said the website allows students to know where the SHUFLY is at all times – especially since most students own smart phones.
“It will also limit calls at our (emergency) dispatchers,” Linfante said, regarding students who call Public Safety and Security with questions about the shuttle.
The SHUFLY has been at Seton Hall since Nov. 2005 according to Szipszky. A University annual report showed 37,200 riders took the shuttle during 2009-2010; it only operates during the fall and spring semesters.
Szipszky said the estimated number of riders for the current academic year so far is up to 34,674, with ID card swipes on the SHUFLY used to count riders.
“The GPS is helpful not only for (tracking) where students get on, but where students get off,” Szipszky said, as overcrowding of the shuttle was problematic at times during the fall semester.
Linfante said the GPS addition was a part of the University’s latest contract negotiations with Air Brook, the company that runs the shuttle vans.
Ride Systems, the supplier for the GPS software, also works with the bus shuttle system at the University of Utah, Boise State University and, closest to Seton Hall, Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.
Justin Rees, founder and CEO of Seattle-based Ride Systems, said he’s been talking with Szipszky for over a year to set up the Web site.
“I’m real excited to have Seton Hall on the (client) list,” Rees said. “There’s also additional features we can offer, such as text message alerts.”
According to Linfante, the system is “relatively inexpensive, and that’s what the (cell phone) technology has done.”
“We also want students to be mindful that delays can still happen,” Linfante said, comparing the SHUFLY overall to any public transit system.
One GPS cell phone is currently owned by Parking Services for the SHUFLY Shuttle Tracker, but Szipszky said there will eventually be two to accommodate both shuttle vans on the weekends.
Brian Wisowaty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org