Sept. 29, 2009
CONTACT: Kelly Snow
University Public Relations Intern
SRU faculty, staff invited to ride SGA's 'NEXTbus'
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Faculty and staff, as well as Slippery Rock University students, are now just one phone call away from the NEXTbus. The Student Government Association recently installed a new computer system on the campus buses it operates to help SRU become more environmentally friendly while providing up-to-date bus stop information.
Passengers can access information about the popular "Happy Bus" schedules either by calling 724.698.2049 or by selecting "Slippery Rock University" on www.NextBus.com. The system tracks both the on-campus bus and the one that travels off campus to area apartment complexes and stores.
The sophisticated NEXTbus system electronically tracks the SGA-sponsored buses giving callers exact information on when the next bus should arrive at a particular stop. Riders are required to know the stop number in advance when using the phone system. Printed schedule cards and online information can provide route and stop information.
Tyson Johnston, SGA vice president for public relations, said the idea for the bus schedule computer systems was submitted by SGA to the Green Fund last spring.
"We applied for a Green Fund Grant for $20,000 to help pay for the system, and were selected to receive funding," Johnston said.
The new systems cost $40,000 with SGA funds covering the remaining half.
Johnston said having the NEXTbus systems on the buses should reduce SRU's carbon footprint. Having easy access to the exact times of bus arrivals should simplify the riding process, therefore encouraging local students, faculty and staff to ride the bus as opposed to driving cars.
Johnston said the new computer system would save time for passengers, especially in winter because they will not have to spend time cleaning ice and snow off of their vehicles. Because individuals will have access to exact times of arrivals, they only have to leave in time to make it to the nearest stop.
"They can hop on a nice warm bus and come to campus," Johnston said. In addition to saving time, riding the bus will also help faculty and staff save money on gasoline.
Johnston said the system also allows the SGA to count the number of passengers on the buses at any given time as well as track at which stops passengers are getting off.
"Those reports are helpful because it lets us know which stops are being used, which aren't, and it allows us to make our schedule better," Johnston said.
Although the SGA is not able to immediately determine the effects of the new computer systems on ridership or to determine the possible decrease in local carbon emissions, Johnston hopes the NEXTbus system will benefit the environment.
"The more people that ride the bus, the less they drive, reducing our carbon footprint," Johnston said.
Johnston said with the Happy Bus schedules available by telephone and online, SGA hopes to reduce the number of paper schedules printed, which would also reduce waste in the environment.
Those interested in riding the bus are able to view a map of each bus stop on the NEXTbus Web site. They can also sign up for alerts to be notified of traffic accidents or high traffic. Johnston said in the future, SGA hopes to make passenger counts also available to riders.
The nine-stop, on-campus 20-minute route runs 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays; the 12-stop, off-campus 30-minute loop runs 7:20 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. The evening route runs 4:30-9 p.m., and the late-night bus, operated Thursday through Saturday, runs 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.
Story by: Kelly Snow, a senior communication major from Grove City and an intern in the SRU University Public Relations Office.)
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.