Students at the University of Central Arkansas now have an easier way to determine if they’ll be late for class.
The school recently equipped its shuttle service buses with GPS, which allows anyone with the app to track the shuttles in real time.
Ken Schulte, project specialist with the UCA Physical Plant, said the idea was used once before nearly 20 years ago to assist with on-campus parking. He said 15 years ago, apartments were built south of Dave Ward Drive that UCA eventually bought.
"Shortly after that, the UCA Shuttle was started and ran from there to Old Main Circle to the middle of campus," Schulte said. "A commuter lot was also started to run from the parking lot by the softball field to Old Main Circle."
With nearly 600 students living in UCA’s Bear Village, he said there would be a gridlock at the intersection of Dave Ward Drive and Donaghey Avenue without the shuttle service for the students.
Schulte said the UCA Shuttle runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and after 10 p.m.
"Over the 13 years that the shuttle has been in existence, most of the students have been very grateful and appreciative of the shuttles," he said. "We have had students, faculty and staff and visitors ride the shuttle."
He said having those students who live at Bear Village ride the shuttle has also opened up more parking spaces on campus for others.
The app assists students who travel to and from campus areas to better know when the shuttles leave and arrive from the designated pick-up and drop-off spots.
Senior Anna Clark said she found out about the new GPS app through the shuttle service.
"They had a sign posted at the shuttle stop in my apartment complex and I decided to download the app and try it out," she said.
The app displays a map of the roads around UCA and each shuttle route it represented with a different color.
Clark said the route from her apartment complex to campus is designated in purple.
"The arrows will move and stop as the shuttle does and you can easily see where a specific shuttle is traveling," she said. "It also provides time estimates, and this lets you know how close or how far a specific shuttle is from your location. All I do is click on a purple arrow and it will show how much time it will take for the shuttle to arrive both on campus and my apartment complex."
Clark said the new system has helped her and she highly recommends any student who uses the UCA Shuttle to download the app.
"If I am running late for class, I can get on the app and make sure there is a shuttle to take me where I need to go," she said. "The app is also helpful in the sense that I do not spend as much time waiting at the stops, especially if it is cold, raining, etc."
The app, Clark said, also allows her to manage her time better and she doesn’t feel as rushed as before she downloaded it.
"I think it is a great system for students regardless of whether they live, in on-campus housing or close by," she said.
The app — UCA Shuttle — can be downloaded on both the iPhone and Android. Users can also type in the link at www.universityofcentralarkansas.ridesystems.net.