USC Transportation’s Campus Cruiser program has launched a phone application and website this past July that allows Trojans to request a Cruiser from their laptops and mobile devices, replacing the previous system in which students had to call for a ride.
Tony Mazza, Transportation director, said the new resources will improve the Campus Cruiser experience.
“The goal for implementing this system is to continue to find opportunities to improve the program, and this system will better align our program with the technology available today,” Mazza said. “It makes sense to have a smartphone app where you can request calls.”
Amri Rigby, a sophomore majoring in arts, technology and the business of innovation, said the app makes it more simple to request a ride.
“The Campus Cruiser app is very convenient and makes setting up rides much easier than before,” Rigby said.
The app, downloadable on both Android and iOS platforms, allows users to not only request a Cruiser, but also see who is driving it, when it will be arriving, where it is and what vehicle will be used so that your Cruiser can be easily identified. In addition to the app, a website was also created to give Trojans another platform to request a ride. At the end of the ride, users can provide feedback about their Cruiser experience.
The new website and app aims to be convenient and eliminate communication errors that have resulted in incorrect pick-ups or directions. Users can input their pick-up location and arrival destination in the app to avoid these mistakes.
Kathrina Ruiz, a sophomore majoring in political science, said the app saves time.
“I love the app because I don’t have to wait through long lines on the phone just to put a request in for a Cruiser,” Ruiz said. “It’s also great because I can see when the Cruiser is arriving and the route.”
Mazza emphasized that the ability for users to input the description of their location will reduce missed pickups and gain efficiencies in the dispatching operation. Furthermore, the system has the ability to indicate descriptions of pick-up locations, which will tell you where you should wait if you are at a particular building.
After putting significant time and research into creating an app to serve users, USC Transportation chose safe ride program RideCell to handle requests for Cruisers. RideCell also provides software for safe ride programs at other universities and uses a model that is similar to popular app-based ridesharing services Uber and Lyft. Like Uber and Lyft, the Campus Cruiser app allows users to rate their ride and track it in real-time.
Before the app, students were able to track their Cruiser’s arrival through SMS text message updates and through an online call tracking platform, TransNET. It was useful for some students; however, if a Cruiser were to arrive earlier than the quoted time, there was no way to notify students besides the notification at arrival. This created confusion and led drivers to wait around, wasting valuable time to start new journeys during high-demand times.
This app and website project is one of the many recent improvements that USC Transportation has been making to the Campus Cruiser program. Over the course of the Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 semesters, Campus Cruiser extended their service boundaries, increased the number of employees and vehicles, and partnered with Uber to eliminate wait times on busy weekend nights. The app is one of the next big steps for Campus Cruiser’s initiative to meet demands for the future. It will really be put to the test this coming fall semester.
“Ultimately, the goal of our program is to provide safe and efficient transportation to our students, and we will continue to research opportunities that will help us achieve that goal,” Mazza said.
Sebastian Vega contributed to this report.