Improving student experience on Penguin Shuttle

Students board the Penguin Shuttle outside of Kilcawley Center. Photo by Molly Burke / Jambar Contributor

By Molly Burke
Jambar Contributor

Youngstown State University’s Student Government Association is collaborating with Support Services to improve transportation services on campus by adding tracking to the Penguin Shuttle, YSU’s free campus shuttle.

The project will require cooperation with Western Reserve Transit Authority, the contract manager for the shuttle. 

SGA Vice President Jordan Pintar said SGA and Support Services are working to implement a feature on the YSU App that would redirect students to the WRTA On Demand app, where they would be able to track the shuttle. 

“Once a driver gets there, they would hook up that the bus is there. [Students] would be able to see it on [the WRTA] app. So, it would show in real time where the bus is driving at, obviously where it’s going to with its next step,” Pintar said. 

Pintar said tracking the Penguin Shuttle will improve convenience and safety for its riders. 

“[Tracking] would give students the opportunity to be in a room and say, ‘oh hey look the shuttle will be here in five minutes,’ and then you can go walk outside and see it there,” Pintar said. 

SGA representatives started the project last year. Pintar said she hopes it will be completed by spring or summer 2024.  

“This is a project that our last president, Maguire Franko, had started,” Pintar said. “I’m really hoping that it will be done within the next spring semester into the summer. That’s my goal, but if not, we are compiling all of the information needed to implement this, so it’s something that can definitely continue to be taken into the next couple years.” 

Danny O’Connell, director of Support Services, said the tracking technology will be similar to that of an Apple AirTag. 

“In essence, it’s like fleet tracking. You could put an AirTag on your car … and that’s a similar technology,” O’Connell said. “The trucking industry has probably done more for these types of apps than anybody.”

The Penguin Shuttle is funded by the federal government, so the tracking will be covered by its federal grant, which is managed by WRTA. 

Before the shuttle receives tracking, SGA and Support Services are refining the Penguin Shuttle’s routes for each of its loops to improve the consistency of the shuttle’s run time.

“This is the first step. If we get the routes down … if we’re running the shuttles on time, appropriately and properly, we might say, ‘that might not be the investment we want to make,’” O’Connell said. 

SGA President Alexander Papa said Support Services have been following the shuttle to document which routes are the most popular. 

“With the shuttle tracking, what they’re doing right now is tracking all the different turns, all the different stops of the shuttle. So, I think they’re actually focusing more on trying to figure out what routes are popular, what routes aren’t [and] hopefully expanding that,” Papa said. 

SGA is also working to incorporate bus stop signs on campus and improve accessibility of information about the Penguin Shuttle. 

The Penguin Shuttle’s loop times and pick up locations can be found on its website

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