We need buses. We have buses. We need bus systems that work. We do not currently have those. Here are some problems that need to be dealt with.
DoubleMap launched this fall.
The previous bus app was great. It had its kinks and glitches, but it was mostly reliable. It clearly listed the ETA for each stop, so you knew when the buses were coming. And most of the time, you could see all of the buses running on the lines.
With DoubleMap, sometimes you can see the buses, sometimes you can’t.
Most lines have ETAs for an inbound stop and an outbound stop. But nobody knows the difference between inbound and outbound. Even if you do know, there’s a good chance that the time displayed for both are incorrect anyway.
Now, we understand that you can use the PDFs that the school provides online. They’re relatively accurate, and they include all the routes. But when you’re trying to catch your bus on time, you don’t have the time (or data) to download the individual PDFs of each bus line and try to figure out if those lines are even running.
The DoubleMap app is supposed to do all of this for us in real-time, to make sure we can get where we need to go, but it doesn’t work.
If all that isn’t bad enough, some routes on DoubleMap randomly disappear. These buses are still running, yet for whatever reason the map refuses to show the arrival and departure times for each stop.
A month or so ago, there was one day where there were no buses shown at all on the map. If you wanted to go somewhere, you wouldn’t know when any of the buses were coming. Sort of defeats the purpose of having an app.
The issues don’t stop once the academic year ends. Often, UR students stay on campus over the summer for research, classes, or jobs.
During this time, there are weeks where none of the dining halls are open, so if you want to eat, there are two options: Eat exclusively at the Pit (minus Rocky’s), or go grocery shopping.
The problem is, the only bus that goes to grocery stores (Wegmans, Walmart, Target) is the green line (modified for the summer), and it only loops on Wednesdays and Saturdays. If you want to buy some food for the week, you have to block out about three hours, at least.
Or if you’re unlucky, and the bus is so packed that the next person who tries to get on will have one foot out the door, you may just have to wait until the bus loops back an hour and a half later, bringing your time up to four and a half hours.
The sheer volume of people who are on the bus is so great that it’s not surprising to see people tightly packed all the way to the front of the bus, some are leaning on the dashboard, staring the poor, frazzled bus driver in the eyes as he tries to convince the hordes of hungry people waiting at the next stop that he really, truly, cannot take them. It’s a safety issue.
Year-round, it’s unsafe to leave campus not knowing when you’ll be able to make it back. Unreliable buses that leave students waiting for upwards of an hour out in Rochester puts students potentially in danger.
This past weekend, one of our Ed Board members was walking to her shuttle stop in downtown Rochester when she was approached and followed by an overly-friendly adult man. As a five-foot girl, it wasn’t the most comfortable of situations, especially since the man insisted on asking personal questions and commenting on her appearance. He gave it up after two blocks, but she was left unnerved waiting for the bus that Doublemap claimed was coming in 10 minutes. (It didn’t. She took an Uber instead.)
Every prospective UR student has heard the bus system touted as one of the many perks of attending on their tour here, but the
Mangelsdorf (and the Campus Times) has encouraged students to escape the UR bubble and explore the city more, but how are we going to do that without reliable, consistent transportation and a way to track it?
If UR is going to go out of its way to offer us this transportation app, make it actually usable. Because right now, it’s not.