With the help of technology, Ferris students and community members will know when to expect the next Dial-A-Ride transportation (DART) bus.
The new app, called Doublemap, allows smartphone users to see the locations of DART buses around Big Rapids.
At the start of the semester, Ferris and DART partnered to create a campus bus route to help students in the wake of Rankin Center construction. Other routes include the city and Safe Ride.
“We [DART] are a taxi service, and the app is made for a fixed route,” Big Rapids Department of Information Technology Director Tim Moslener said. “So, right now, we’re testing things out. We’ve had to change things a little bit.”
The app, which is available to any Apple or Android-based product, can be downloaded for free through the Apple Apps or Google Plays stores.
Moslener has been close monitoring the app since it went live last week. To start, the app won’t show average wait times or estimated times the buses will be to specific locations. However, those features will be available once more data is collected.
The app operates as a GPS tracking system, according to Moslener. Each bus on the route has a tablet that, once turned on, connects them to the map displayed on the app. The entire project cost the city of Big Rapids $7,000.
“Each bus has a tablet that is connected through the Verizon network,” Moslener said. “That transmits the GPS coordinates, so it’s real-time updated.”
Other college communities utilize Doublemap to connect with riders, including Georgetown University.
In addition, the app’s administrators can check to see how far a bus has traveled and if the bus was speeding.
Now that the app is up and running, Moslener’s new goal is to integrate the app into the Safe Ride program. The Safe Ride program operates Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and takes riders from local establishments to their homes free of charge.
“We definitely have something in the works,” Moslener said.