Transportation department updates app, website

By Allison Ribick | 11/17/14 4:41am

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GVL/Brianna Olson Jordan Foreman

There are many perceived perks for Grand Valley State University students in regard to riding the bus system, The Rapid, throughout Grand Rapids and beyond. Students can get on any Rapid bus for free and often use Route 50 to go downtown and Routes 37 and 48 to go to the north and south campus apartments.

However, obstacles often get in the way of having a convenient bus ride. Traffic, car accidents and bus malfunctions are some of the many things that can cause buses to be delayed, which can disrupt a person’s schedule.

In an attempt to make the bus experience more efficient and reliable, the GVSU transportation department has updated their website, www.gvsu.edu/bus, to be more mobile-friendly so students and staff can have a better time accessing it on their mobile devices.

Previously, in order to find the bus schedules, students could look at the bus schedules posted on the transportation department and The Rapid’s websites, or check the schedule provided at the bus stops.

Now, the transportation department’s website will offer real time information about the status of the buses.

“We’re ultimately trying to make it more user-friendly for a rider that is standing at a bus stop somewhere and wants to access our information,” said Mark Rambo, manager of operations at GVSU’s Pew Campus and regional centers.

The transportation department’s website has converted from Content Management System (CMS) 3 to CMS 4, thanks to the web team of the institutional marketing unit at GVSU. Ben Rapin is a web manager of the web team and has worked on converting GVSU department websites over to CMS 4 at their request.

“This change from three to four primarily was done to update the design of the CMS system and to make the sites responsive, or mobile-friendly,” Rapin said. “As you resize your browser, or if you look at a website on different size screens, the design will respond to whatever size device it’s being displayed on.”

How GVSU’s home page looks like when accessed on a computer versus mobile is an example of this.

“It’s really critical for (the transportation department) to have a site that works well on a mobile device,” Rapin said. “If (people are) on the bus looking for the next bus schedule, or if they’re walking to some bus and need to know information, they’re going to be on a smaller screen, not on their computer. It makes a lot of sense for them to be in the CMS 4 now.”

Any GVSU department can contact the web team to request an update to CMS 4. Ultimately, however, the credit to the success of the website should be given to the department administrators, Rapin said. The web team provides the system and maintains the overall CMS, but it is up to the administrators to add content and design.

In addition to the transportation department’s website, there are three mobile applications that help with bus information. Every 30 seconds, the GPS location of each bus is uploaded, and the data is incorporated into Google Maps.

Rapid Connect is a website that offers real time information on when and where the buses are, using information directly from The Rapid. Public service messages relating to detours, weather, alerts for specific stops and a trip planner are some of the features of the website, at www.connect.ridetherapid.org/infopoint

The myStop mobile app by Avail Technologies is available for iPhone users. The transit app is for iPhone and Android users. Both have similar features to Rapid Connect such as trip planning, alerts, routes, maps and arrival times.

“That’s going to be especially useful in the cold weather, because now if you want to wait inside of a building you can use these mobile devices to time when you go out to wait at the bus stop, that way you’re not out waiting in the cold for very long,” Rambo said.

Individuals can access the transportation department’s mobile-friendly website at www.gvsu.edu/bus.

aribick@lanthorn.com

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