Research Project Summary Information
Wireless GPS Fleet Tracking at UAlbany(25732)
University at Albany
Transportation to the University of Albany (UAlbany) comes most frequently in one of three forms: the University shuttle system, the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA) buses, or personal vehicles. Commuters comprise over 60% of the campus population. Bus routes provided by the University and CDTA can be used, free of charge, by all campus members. UAlbany has 15 buses in its fleet, offering six different routes during the academic year. These include a shuttle service to the downtown campus on Washington Avenue, alumni quad on Western Avenue, the East Campus in Rensselaer, the Health and Counseling Center at Patroon Creek, and a shopping shuttle two times a week. The operating hours of these runs vary with the more heavily used lines to the campuses running from 7:00 am to 9:30 pm. Most shuttles run every 24 to 30 minutes on the Western Avenue line alternating with CDTA, so a bus runs along these routes every 12 minutes. Service during the summer and academic breaks is reduced to five lines that run approximately every thirty minutes between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Information on these runs is currently disseminated in a variety of ways, including traditional paper brochures available across campus and in the Office of Parking and Mass Transit, on-line at the University websites and posted in shelters on campus. Updates and scheduled changes to published routes are broadcast via Twitter.
Currently, 18% of UAlbany students and only 2% of employees take the University bus fleet. Based on a survey administered by the University, convenience was the number one barrier. Factoring into this is the perceived uncertainty of taking the bus. Even with the multiple avenues of communication, there still exists a level of uncertainty as to the timing of arrivals and departures from bus stops. Despite the best efforts of the mass transit staff, the adherence to published bus schedules is not always possible due to unforeseen circumstances, associated with traffic congestion, accidents and weather conditions. In addition, the buses can sometimes be filled to capacity, especially during the heavy demand time in the morning. This will prevent the acceptance of new passengers during scheduled bus stops. This creates a situation whereby even when one knows the published schedule, it does not mean the bus will arrive at the station at that time, for the reasons discussed above. In conjunction with the secondary goal of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and developing a model for others to follow, UAlbany seeks to increase mass transit ridership by implementing a technology with the potential of favorably impacting commuting patterns. The primary goal of this project is to make alternative transportation use a more viable option by implementing a GPS Tracking on the University fleet and broadcasting the bus locations to commuters via the internet and a “smart phone” application.
The increased use of mass transit is expected to result in a reduction of vehicle miles travelled, which creates a wide range of energy, environmental, economic and social benefits. By reducing petroleum consumption, a corresponding reduction in carbon emissions and global warming, better air quality and less drain on natural resources should be realized. Quality of life may be enhanced by taking the number of cars off the road. Health benefits may be realized in the form of fewer respiratory illnesses, especially asthma. Less congestion on roads should reduce the stress and time lost related to waiting in traffic, and provide opportunities for increased productivity for students and staff. Safety benefits may also be realized from not driving single occupancy vehicles. The most obvious is the decline in traffic accidents through the reduction of cars on the road. There also exists the reduction in the number of accidents and stress related to travelling in poor weather conditions, especially in the winter. Indirectly, reduced reliance on foreign sources of oil will make the country less vulnerable to the volatility of the political landscape of oil rich countries. Finally, more communal forms of ridership will yield a social benefit -- new networks will form that will improve the University’s social capital.
University at Albany
1400 Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12222
Mary Ellen Mallia
SUNY at Albany
NYSERDA Contact Information
R&D -Transport & Power Systems