Urge University to implement BranVan service alerts
As a result of frequent delays and interruptions in BranVan service, this board urges the Escort Safety Service and the University to coordinate an effort to improve lines of communication between riders and the shuttle service operators, including the creation of a notification system that would allow students to be informed of any service changes.
Last Thursday evening, the Campus BranVan had a flat tire, and as a result, there was no service for a period of time. Students who wanted to take the BranVan from Admissions to the Charles River Apartments, for example, were left stranded without knowing why; their only other option was a 15-minute walk on roads covered in black ice.
In order to prevent this, an optional notification system could be put into place. Not all students use the BranVan service; but those who do could sign up to receive alerts that would notify students if a van is out of service or severely delayed, which could happen as the result of an accident. After receiving a notification, a student could decide to go inside, walk or wait longer, but they would be able to make an informed choice.
Another option is to put service status online, a mechanism similar to what the MBTA and the MTA in New York City provide. Information would be entered only if there were a change in service; this could include a canceled shuttle to Boston/Cambridge, a long delay in the Waltham BranVan schedule, or an announcement that BranVans will not stop at Grad because of a change in route.
Either one of these systems would assist students in creating better travel itineraries, as making the 15-minute walk, rather than waiting an half hour for the next BranVan shuttle to come can be the difference between making it to class on time or being late. Not all BranVan drivers turn on the GPS tracking signal, either, which if fully implemented could also be beneficial to commuters.
In addition, many incoming students do not know the ins and outs of the Waltham BranVan stops. While there is a shuttle schedule online as well as a map on the Rider app, neither show specifics. There are certain spots at which drivers stop that new students may not be aware of. Standing just 10 meters from the designated stop may prevent someone from being picked up. Providing a detailed map that could be viewed online or downloaded could help ease confusion and provide a more seamless experience for riders and drivers.
While these changes are small, and delays cannot always be prevented, thorough communication with students will help mitigate unexpected situations that may arise.