One of the questions that has plagued Bellarmine students for many years is “Where on earth is the shuttle?” However, the days of looking for the shuttle without knowing its location may be coming to an end.

In Bellarmine’s Student Government Association (SGA) meeting on September 1, 2016, a bill passed to fund for a new shuttle tracking system. The tracking system, called Ride Systems, allows Android, Blackberry and iPhone users to use an app to find the location of the shuttle wherever it may be on campus. The app is available for Bellarmine students to use now.

A similar bill was proposed and postponed last year by SGA. At the meeting, there were many people who wanted to postpone this bill, citing the other costs. However, the benefits and demand by the student body ultimately made SGA pass the bill. In a quote from the meeting’s minutes, SGA responded to criticisms.

“We should think about how we should spend our money to represent BU as a whole. The things we’re doing in SGA aren’t always necessary, but they benefit the student body, like the charging stations. Many of the students in polls have suggested the shuttle tracking app, and we’re here to represent students’ ideas.”

According to a survey of 97 students conducted by SGA, 92.8 percent said they wanted a shuttle tracking app. Many students said having such an app would be helpful. Mason Riley, a junior, said he agrees with SGA’s decision.

“I think that it is a great idea and will really help in saving people time,” Riley said.

The way the shuttle tracker works is a lot simpler than one may think. The tracker itself is a small GPS device that plugs into shuttles’ cigarette lighters, making it easily transferrable between the shuttles.

“I think we all kind of can agree that right now the shuttles aren’t exactly the most consistent with their schedules. This will help with that,”  SGA President Ryan Stevens said. “This will be one of those things where we will be able to monitor them and figure out [if] maybe we need two shuttles on this track to make it reach the route, maybe we need to make them go a little bit quicker.”

Although the app’s main purpose is to help students, it seems to also have the potential to aid the security office in seeing whether the shuttles are running on schedule.

“It’s accountability for the campus security office to kind of see if the shuttles are running on schedule, they are making the right routes, et cetera.” Stephen said. But it is a really good resource for students to be able to see like ‘Alright, it’s pouring down rain right now the shuttle’s not there yet, how about I just stay inside my residence hall until I absolutely have to go outside’” Stevens said.

There have been several other universities that have implemented shuttle trackers on their campuses with great success.

“University of Louisville has a shuttle tracking system. This company we have worked with in particular, they work with Arizona State University, with University of Utah, huge schools,” said Hayley Davis, an SGA member who fought for the bill.

Each tracking system costs $300 dollars and SGA purchased three systems. The $900 total is a one-time fee. After the one-time fee, it is $95 per shuttle per month to continue the service. Bellarmine isn’t tied to a contract, allowing SGA to cancel at any time.

The ability to cancel whenever was a determining factor for SGA, as it does not require a commitment from the university.  It has been approved for four months as a testing period and was implemented Oct. 13. If the trial run is successful, SGA will need to pass another bill in the spring to make the service permanent.

The app allows the security office to monitor how many people have downloaded the app and how much they use it. The app also has the ability to count the number of people riding each shuttle at any particular time.

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