4-RIDE online request portal goes live

Hatchet File Photo

The University rolled out its online request portal for 4-RIDE Friday, nearly a year after introducing the idea of automating the shuttle service students complain is sluggish.

Students can find a “4RIDE” option under the quick links at myGW, directing them to a page with slots for their pick-up and drop-off locations, as well as the date, time, number of passengers, cell phone number and e-mail address. There is also an option to receive a notification when a shuttle is en route. Riders can request a trip up to two hours in advance.

According to the website, students can only book one ride at a time and cannot cancel or modify trips after a vehicle is dispatched to the location. Vans can be monitored through Google maps on the page, which is smartphone-accessible.

After toying with the idea of implementing a system to allow students to request a 4-RIDE online in October 2010, administrators worked to secure a final $30,000 contract to update the fleet’s technology in January. Officials then extended the initial spring semester deadline for the project’s completion to “early fall” this year.

The goal is for vehicles to pick up students within a 15-minute estimated arrival time, Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell said in August.

“The whole purpose of this is we want to do a couple of things. One, we want to make the system more responsive to the students,” Darnell said in August. “We want to make sure that when they request a ride, they can get, as immediately as you possibly can, a response from our dispatchers.”

On the average weeknight, 4-RIDE transports about 350 passengers, a number that jumps to about 400 riders on weekend nights. It runs from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

A similar tracking service for the Vern Express launched earlier this fall, allowing students to monitor shuttle locations online and through text messaging

The automated portal will allow students to both book rides and track the shuttle slated to pick them up through a real-time Google map, while also receiving text and e-mail notifications with the shuttle’s estimated arrival time – within 15 minutes, Darnell said. Riders can request trips up to two hours in advance.

This post was updated on Jan. 2, 2012 to reflect the following:

The Hatchet incorrectly reported 4-RIDE’s operation times.

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