EDTORIAL: BranVan service still littered with problems
Even after recent changes to the Branvan reservation system, significant issues remain with both the campus and Waltham Branvan service. This board has highlighted several problems with the program in the past, but few of these suggestions were implemented. Given how many students are reliant on the Waltham and campus BranVans on a daily basis, the continual issues with the BranVan services are hard to ignore.
A common issue facing students attempting to catch a BranVan is the lack of a tracker on the Transloc Rider app. For seemingly no reason, the tracker fails to register the position of the Waltham and campus BranVans for long periods of time. This is clearly not an issue with the Rider app, as the Joseph’s shuttles usually manage to have their locator on during all hours of operation, except for some early mornings.
Another recurring issue is missing shifts during peak hours. Recently, both the campus and Waltham BranVans have missed a number of their pickups between the hours of 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.; no reason for this has been communicated to the community. This is understandably frustrating for students, particularly in poor weather conditions. Last Tuesday, a large crowd of students waited in heavy rain for nearly an hour to take the 6:30 p.m. campus BranVan, which still had not arrived as of about 6:50 p.m. This is hardly an uncommon experience.
While inconsistent timing is inconvenient for most students, it is debilitating for students with disabilities who may be reliant on the BranVan to travel across campus. Although the Waltham BranVan specifically does not take a 5:30 p.m. shift to avoid rush hour traffic, the unreliability of vans at other scheduled times is a serious issue.
Additionally, the newly introduced QR code reservation system for the Waltham BranVan is confusing and unintuitive. The QR codes themselves do not appear to be consistently verified by BranVan drivers. Additionally, the requirement to reserve spots two hours in advance seemingly has not solved problems with overcrowding and creates problems for students who need transportation at the last minute. While the idea of modernizing the reservation system is a good one, the current system is confusing and unhelpful.
Furthermore, few of the suggestions we and other members of the University have suggested to improve service appear to have been put into affect. Changes such as , and would comprise worthwhile and fairly unobtrusive additions to the service, but none of the above suggestions have been put into effect. Given the more substantial changes the program could use to reliability and driver responsibility, continued failure to act on even these small alterations is exasperating.
On the whole, the lack of progress on the BranVan’s issues is as frustrating as the particular issues themselves. Many of these issues have affected students for months or years, and the University’s apparent disinterest in improving the system is disheartening.