This year students have seen many changes in Parking and Transportation. Along with the new Stinger buses, the department aims to add new improvements to the comparably smaller mode of late night cross-campus transportation known as the Stingerette throughout this semester.
The changes are a reaction to the increase in Stingerette use last semester, largely due to high crime rates both in and around campus. With the increased number of calls, problems with the previous system were exacerbated by Stingerette operators, resulting in a need for change.
“On our busiest of nights, the Stingerette call center receives over 550 ride requests. The sheer volume of calls began to be overwhelming for our call center, so a decision was made to find a better, simpler method of collecting and dispatching ride requests,” said Aaron Fowler, alternative transportation coordinator for Parking and Transportation.
Coordinators at the department have implemented a solution using a service called RideCell, an automated dispatch software service. Although they looked to an outside vendor for the improvement, the coordinators indicated the connection between RideCell and Tech. RideCell’s co-founder Steve Dickerson is a professor emeritus at Tech, and RideCell’s other co-founder and COO Aarjav Trivedi is an alumnus with a masters degree in CS.
Trivedi stated that RideCell’s goal is to “make transportation on campus as easy as possible by using technology.”
With the product, students will no longer have to deal with operator availability or the possibility of having their calls dropped due to high volume. Also, before a student’s call is even processed, RideCell will tell them the estimated waiting time, allowing for greater student awareness and security.
The new request system will also remember the most frequently requested routes by any caller.
“For example, let’s say you request a Stingerette ride from the Klaus Advanced Computing Building to the Graduate Living Center today. The next time you want to make the same trip, you can call 404.385.RIDE, select the option for ‘Previously requested trips’ and select that trip. By pressing just three buttons you will have requested a ride,” Trivedi said.
The new Stingerette services are currently available by calling (404)-385-RIDE and as of Jan. 22 through www.stingerette.com. RideCell is currently working on apps for smartphones for its service. RideCell, however, is not the only initiative that Parking and Transportation is working on for Stingerettes.
“[The] long-term [is that] we hope to install GPS devices on our vehicles so that we can automatically schedule and dispatch a request to a vehicle that is the best match for the request. This will also enable us to give customers real time notifications about the impending arrival of a vehicle,” Fowler said.
After its implementation on Tech’s campus, RideCell plans to market itself to other campuses and companies with a need for a “zero-effort” fleet management system.