The UTM Shuttle Bus Service has introduced four new buses with enhanced features, including upgraded Wi-Fi. The buses were introduced recently as part of the service’s ongoing attempts to respond to shuttle bus user feedback.
Four buses were rolled out in 2017, bringing with them Wi-Fi capability to UTM’s Shuttle Bus system. However, in recent years, there have been complaints surrounding the system, its accessibility, convenience, and comfort. In response, four new buses have been brought in with a new Wi-Fi service provider, improved air conditioning, and a suspension with an accessible lift.
“The Wi-Fi service can accommodate online activities such as light browsing, email, and chat,” said Megan Evans, manager for Parking and Transportation Services. “Unfortunately, it will not support high levels of streaming or data intensive applications.”
Cynthia Julie-Ann Parker, a first-year management student, believes that the Wi-Fi service still needs work.
“The Wi-Fi is iffy. If the bus is rather full, then the Wi-Fi doesn’t connect,” said Parker. “The only time I’ve gotten it to really work and have decent connectivity is when there are less that 10 people on it.”
Sherif Nabeeh, a second-year economics major, also pointed out the differing Wi-Fi availability across the system.
“The Wi-Fi is inconsistent, because some buses have Wi-Fi and others just don’t,” said Nabeeh.
Students have also voiced mixed opinions of the bus drivers.
“A lot of them unnecessarily slam on the brakes and accelerate during traffic which literally makes you feel like you’re getting whiplash,” Parker said.
Her sentiments were echoed by other students who were interviewed for this article.
Nabeeh spoke of a different experience with the shuttle bus drivers. While he agrees the driving itself is questionable, his experience with a particular driver warranted a shout-out. “I don’t know what his name is,” said Nabeeh, “but he has his bus pimped out with fairy lights and great music!”
The rough ride coupled with the lack of proper cooling makes for an uncomfortable journey altogether explained Parker.
“Every single time I ride the bus, I get nauseous. I’m not sure if it’s because of how bumpy the ride is, or how crowded the bus is,” Parker stated.
There are also calls to improve administrative affairs.
Erica Dixon, a first-year life sciences student, said, “Honestly, [the shuttles] come at weird times that don’t work with my schedule and I’d rather take the GO bus.”
This sentiment has been voiced by other students as well. Parker is particularly vocal about her experience.
“I’ve literally been at the bus stop, seen the line, and opted to take the GO train or MiWay bus instead,” said Parker.
Students using the shuttle bus service seem to be generally unaware of the improvements introduced. It is expected that as more buses with the new features are added, the positive consensus will spread more universally across users.
Administratively, the service has much to gain from the feedback of its users. Evans hinted at attempts to bridge the communication gap in the future.
“The ability to have a real-time mobile application is desirable and options to deliver this service are being investigated,” Evans explained.
“However, the implementation for this technology is complex, challenging, and time-intensive.”
At the moment, there are no active efforts to pursue this, but Evans hopes to see advancements in the future.