University finalizing 4-RIDE automation

Obtaining a 4-RIDE may become easier in the coming months, as the University works to finalize a contract to automate the shuttle service.

The automated service will allow students to request rides online or through a PDA – in addition to calling in. Those who request a ride will also receive text message notifications with estimated arrival times if the new automation system is put in place.

University officials hope the system will be installed before the end of the semester.

Darrell Darnell – senior associate vice president for safety and security who’s been heading up the discussion – said a GPS tracker will monitor vans, and dispatchers will use the mapping system to send vehicles based on their location.

Updating the technology will cost $30,000, Darnell said. The cost includes purchasing and installing the GW-customized equipment.

Darnell said the goal is to pick up students with a reduced response time of 15 minutes within receiving their ride requests, he said, but arrival time estimates will be provided via text in case there is a high volume of calls.

He added the automated system “will hopefully make 4-RIDE a more user-friendly and efficient program for students and for [University Police Department].”

On average weeknights, 4-RIDE shuttles about 350 riders, with about 400 using the service weekend nights.

Darnell added he estimates the new system will be implemented within 90 days of the contract period, but a start date has not yet been decided.

“It will start off as a pilot program and we will solicit input from students in making adjustments and improvements to the system,” Darnell said.

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