Co-Authored by Almudena Rincon
An app that aims to improve the experience of Loyola students on campus transportation is expected to launch this spring.
8-Ride is a transportation service provided by MV Transportation in which students can call for a ride to a destination within the outlined boundaries. The service runs seven days a week from 6:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. with extended hours on Friday and Saturday until 4 a.m.
With four to six vans in service every day, the 8-Ride program sees anywhere from 75 to 100 riders a night with the peak hours being 10:30 p.m. and 2 a.m, according to Nick Memisovski, campus transportation manager.
Campus transportation is consistently working to improve the efficiency of the service to meet students’ needs, according to Memisovski, who said campus transportation has been working on the development of an 8-Ride service app.
To develop the app, Memisovski said campus transportation has been collecting data on how students use the 8-Ride service. The app is expected to be available after spring break.
“We want to pilot it and get some feedback on what it’s doing and how it’s working and over the summer make enhancements on the feedback that we get, which is why we’ve been working very closely with student government,” he said.
The app will require a one-time login with a student ID and will also include the shuttle bus tracker, according to an email from Jane Neufeld, vice president for Student Development.
“8-Ride users will be able to request a ride, view the location of vehicles in service and monitor the time it will take for the ride to arrive, all without having to contact and speak with a service dispatcher,” said Neufeld.
Tim McGuriman, associate vice president for Capital Planning, has been in charge of 8-Ride since 2002, and when he took charge, the program was operated by Loyola.
“We ran the services and had our own buses, our own vans and employees working for the university,” McGuriman. “It wasn’t a good business for the university to be involved in and managing itself, and we didn’t do a really good job.”
For 10 years, Loyola has outsourced the 8-Ride program. McGuriman said this was more effective.
“We knew we could get more professional service and give students a better value,” he said.
Loyola is on its second provider MV Transportation. It was previously with Free Enterprise, which it worked with for two years. MV Transportation emphasized a more efficient but lengthy process for the 8-Ride services, including more student information to collect for data.
“We’re trying to make service more accountable and understand who is actually using the service and make sure it’s the right people,” McGuriman said. “If someone is new to using the service, for the first time, we collect a little bit more data because we are building toward a bigger goal here with the new app.”
Last semester, the program introduced a fixed route to students at Cuneo Hall every half hour which includes many students coming from the IC.
“Students don’t need to call because it’s on a scheduled pick up and that’s helping us be more efficient out in the field,” McGuriman said. “And whether there are other pick-up points from a route perspective that make sense, we’re always trying to figure that out based on volumes.”
Junior secondary education and English double major Carlin Coffey said she thinks the service takes too long and once waited for more than 40 minutes after being told it would only be a 15-minute wait, so she decided to walk instead.
Coffey expressed her concerned the next day to Neufeld and received a response from McGuriman the following day.
“I was really impressed with their prompt response time and appreciated that they took my complaints seriously and seemed to be working to better 8-Ride,” said the 20-year-old. “I walked away from that conversation with positive feelings about the direction 8-Ride is moving in.”