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App makes public transportation more usable for students

Aims to make public transportation more usable in Pullman

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The new Pullman transportation app helps students plan their trips to campus and avoid missing the bus.

The new Pullman transportation app helps students plan their trips to campus and avoid missing the bus.

ZACH RUBIO | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

ZACH RUBIO | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

The new Pullman transportation app helps students plan their trips to campus and avoid missing the bus.

KEVINE VALLENE, Evergreen contributor

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Standing outside in the dead of winter waiting for a bus that may or may not come: That was the experience of one WSU student last year.

“When it was negative 5 degrees a year ago, I waited out here for 45 minutes. [The bus] was late … from the ice,” sophomore Kaitlyn Van Vleet said.

She said she had also waited outside in the cold on another occasion to find out the bus wasn’t running that day.

Van Vleet downloaded the new Pullman Transit app a few weeks ago because she never knew when the blue route bus was going to show up at her stop. She motioned to her phone to display the app, which showed her bus on its way.

“It’s usually really correct on its time,” she said.

The app is able to display times that buses will arrive at their stops and how full a bus is. It allows users to plan out their ride to find the quickest route possible. Sophomore Logan Plant downloaded the app after similar frustrations caused by trying to guess when his bus would show up.

“Last week it was pouring rain outside, and I have to walk about two minutes to get to the bus stop,” Plant said. “As I was rounding the corner I saw it drive by, and I knew that was a 10-15 minute wait. That was the last straw because I was missing buses so often this semester, so I finally got the app.”

He said the app can sometimes be off on its estimates by about a minute, but he appreciates being able to plan his ride easily.

This app wasn’t Pullman Transit’s first foray into route-planning for riders. There was previously a website to provide the same service, but it lacked features and was retired before the app was released.

Pullman Transit Operations Supervisor Brad Rader said his favorite new feature can send push notifications through user’s phones to alert them of bus shutdowns due to snow or detours, keeping riders like Van Vleet from having to wait for a bus that won’t arrive.

“On the old website I could not send out push notifications or text messages,” he said. “[The app] allows me to communicate to our end users.”

Users can also set an alarm to alert them when their preferred bus is going to arrive, something Rader cited as another welcome feature.

At the same time the app was released, WSU Transportation Services was rolling out an awareness campaign called “Find Your Way on Crimson and Gray.” The campaign was tailored to the Crimson and Gray routes on campus.

“This campaign is really about letting people know that you can get from one side of campus to the other using these bus routes,” Brent Atkinson, WSU transportation demand management coordinator, said. “It’s not so much promoting the express routes out to apartment land.”

Atkinson said the campaign was already in development when they got word of the app in December, but they were able to update to include the new app.

Pullman Transit and WSU Transportation Services aim to increase ridership and provide an easier riding experience through the app and campaign.

“In the evening, I just want to get home,” Van Vleet said, “and I don’t want to stand out in the cold, so I can just go into [the app] and look at where [the bus] is.”

 

 

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