Rutgers' transition from the TransLoc app to the Passio GO! app has done anything but help students accurately track the estimated arrival time of their buses and get to class on time. This can cause students to wonder — will Rutgers ever provide quality transportation resources to its students?
On the first day of classes, Passio GO!'s system experienced a connection outage that caused the app to go offline for essentially the entire day. Students were left confused and stranded, which is, frankly, an embarrassing way to start off the semester.
Students opted for walking to their classes or paying $1.99 for a Rutgers bus tracking app, cleverly named "RU There Yet," which is currently trending on the Apple App Store in the top 10 paid navigation apps.
Dory Devlin, a University spokesperson, told The Daily Targum news desk that the outage was caused by the app failing to handle increased user traffic. Yet the University's motivation to change to Passio GO! was to provide a "better user experience for our students" and that it is "a more effective system," according to Devlin.
But how are students supposed to trust Rutgers' commitment to effective transportation when the app clearly cannot handle a large user load and when the app historically has a terrible track record?
In a 2022 article published in the Harvard Crimson, the writer called the app the "literal bane of (their) existence" and noted its 1.4-star rating in the Apple App Store. So, the question is, why would Rutgers voluntarily switch to an app that other university students have expressed disdain toward?
Additionally, if Passio GO! failed to support a Harvard student population of approximately 25,000, what made Rutgers think that it could handle a huge student population of more than 37,000?
On top of this, Rutgers admitted its largest first-year class in 2022. As Rutgers continues to admit larger and larger first-year classes, it is important that these new students have a functioning bus tracking app since they likely have the least experience with navigating campus through the bus system.
Thus far, Rutgers has failed its students by switching to Passio GO! If students cannot get to class on time due to app malfunctions, this hinders their academic performance, something the University should be prioritizing.
What the University should have done is conduct a trial run with Passio GO! for perhaps a semester before signing a contract that traps students until 2026. But let us be honest: A trial run with the app would not even be worth it, considering its terrible track record and the fact that staying with TransLoc would have been the same price.
To make things worse, it was expressed by students that they would prefer for the University to switch back to the TransLoc app, and the Targum's editorial board thinks this could be for a couple of reasons.
TransLoc displays the ETA for multiple buses in the same bus route, not just the closest one like Passio GO! does. This is helpful because students can plan ahead for bus time arrivals. They may not necessarily want to catch the closest bus and would rather take one that is coming in 30 to 40 minutes, for instance.
If a student wants to catch a bus that is arriving later, with Passio GO!, they have to physically look at the map on the app and approximate when they think that bus could be arriving, which is a dangerous game to play if you want to get to class on time.
Additionally, from the board's personal experiences, Passio GO! does not predict the buses' ETAs accurately. The app will say that the bus will be coming in a minute, and then it will say 10 minutes before it seems as if the bus is not coming at all.
This causes one of the most classic forms of the RU Screw: bus anxiety. As a result, students may be compelled to walk to class even if that might be unsafe, considering the highways and traffic-filled roads between campuses (perhaps the ultimate RU Screw).
Students also cannot see the list of stops an individual bus goes to. They have to click on a stop and then look at all the buses that go to that respective stop. This change is very disorganized and overwhelming.
One sees a clutter of brightly colored squares that are distracting and unnecessary. The colors on the TransLoc app were much more subtle and easier to follow, and the list of stops under each bus route was much more straightforward.
While TransLoc was not perfect (with a 2.7 Apple App Store rating), it was better than Passio GO! and more user-friendly at the same price for the University.
Even though Transdev, Rutgers' transit provider, has pledged its commitment to improve the app, and students may become more acclimated to the app, Rutgers has a duty to improve its transportation issues, not worsen them.
Rutgers has already raised tuition this year, and the least it could do is guarantee a functional bus-tracking app. While Rutgers is in a partnership with Transdev and may have to factor in its needs and wants, Rutgers should always prioritize its students and their transportation experience between all five New Brunswick campuses.
Passio GO!'s performance does not reflect the University's commitment. Clearly, Rutgers' administration does not understand our experience as students and fails to reassure the student body that they hear our concerns and demands as students.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 155th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.