After several weeks of increased campus safety awareness resulting from the high number of campus attacks, student transporation has become a concern, especially for those traveling alone and after dark. At the end of every Clery Safety Act, students are encouraged to walk in well-lit areas, travel in groups, report suspicious activity to GTPD and to call a Stingerette.
Recently, students have begun to express concern about the quality of service received from the Stingerette system.
The service has seen many technological changes in the past year, but has not seen a change in resources.
“We have the same level of service and same resources as last year. The number of vans on the road and the number of drivers are still the same,” said Lance Lunsway, the Senior Director at the Tech Parking and Transportation Services.
According to data gathered by Tech Parking and Transportation, at any given time between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m., there are three to four Stingerette vans in service and available for student reservations.
The peak time of usage, often the period when the Stingerette is requested most often, falls between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., according to Lunsway.
There have been issues with increasingly long wait times and miscommunications between students and drivers.
“I’ve pretty much given up on using the Stingerette. One night in early Aug., I was trying to get a ride to West, and it took them 45 minutes to show up at North Ave. Then, they drove past us three times. Later, the same night, we tried to get a ride back, and it took over an hour,” said Breanna Poteet, a first-year MSE major.
The Parking and Transportation Office claims that their data doesn’t show that the average weight time is long. According to their data analysis for the month of Sept., the average wait time to get a Stingerette ride was between four and eight minutes.
Based on overwhelming student responses, the average wait time for a Stingerette is often closer to 45 minutes. Many students have also complained about receiving confirmation calls or texts, then waiting another 20 minutes outside and alone near the pick-up point. Others complain about never recieving a confirmation call or text in the first place.
With the implementation of the new system to make trip requests, the Parking and Transportation Office seeks to prioritize rides to maximize efficiency. The office says it makes 100,000 Stingerette trips per year.
According to Lunsway, the most significant problem that the Stingerette service runs into is last-minute driver sickness. If drivers call in sick before their shifts begin, there are no immediate replacements and this often results in overbooking.
In light of the increase in the Clery Safety Acts in the past ten days, the Assistant Chief of Police has held several sessions with all Stingerette drivers and dispatchers regarding adequate precautions to make the campus a safer place to travel at night.
Furthermore, the GTPD has been requesting that Stingerette drivers report any suspicious or unusual activity immediately.
Another student concern is the denial of rides to students under certain circumstances. The Stingerette system is advertised as a safe transportation option to parents and students at FASET, as well as on every Clery Safety Act.
“Students are denied rides when they are under the influence, belligerent and rude to the driver or co-passengers,” said David Williamson, Associate Director at Tech Parking and Transportation Services.
The drivers are supposed to contact GTPD immediately in the event of the above listed situations, according to Williamson.
“We don’t want to be known as the ‘Drunk Taxi.’ [Stingerettes are] for safe rides only,” Lunsway said.
However, students report that they have been denied rides for several other reasons. Students have been told they are not going to be given a ride because the distance is too short, or because the system is full.
“I have been denied several times. I think it’s really crazy that they will drive straight by people, tell you to take the Midnight Rambler when your friends called just a minute before and got a ride to and from the same place,” said Alexei Nikonovich-Kahn, a first-year MGT Major.
The Parking and Transportation Office responds by saying that they don’t have the necessary data and facts to investigate and solve such problems.
To address these issues, they want to implement an instant feedback feature available via smartphones and the web, so that students could convey their level of satisfaction after the completion of every ride. This would also gives the Parking and Transportation Office access to concrete details to improve upon the system.