4-RIDE Program Upgrade

August 25, 2011

The Office of Safety and Security announces new web-based solutions for university shuttle service.

Within the first few weeks of the fall semester, the Office of Safety and Security anticipates having a new system online, which will help it track the university’s shuttles, called 4-RIDE, through GPS technology, as well as a system to accept ride requests digitally.

“Not only will the upgrades offer an improved user experience, but the Office of Safety and Security will be able to gather data related to high-volume locations,” said Darrell Darnell, senior associate vice president for safety and security. “Understanding which areas of campus have the highest call volume will continue to help improve our distribution of vehicles.”

The changes to the university’s 4-RIDE program, an escort van fleet designed to help protect the community, were prompted by student feedback that Mr. Darnell and Kevin Hay, chief of the GW Police Department, received when they came to GW last year.

At the time, students had to call dispatchers, who, in turn, manually dispatched a shuttle. During heavy call volume times -- dispatchers fielded about 160,000 calls last year -- students were often placed on hold for long periods of time. Additionally, dispatchers had to call drivers to find out where they were located on campus.

While the phone reservation system will remain available to students requesting a ride, the Office of Safety and Security has been working with two transportation technology providers, Navman Wireless and OnScene Solutions, to install GPS tracking in the vans and to create what the office describes as “an integrated software interface for a web-based request and reservation solution.”

The GPS devices will help staff dispatch vehicles more strategically, and the web-based reservation system will allow students to reserve shuttles either through their computers or smart phones.

The system will allow students to book one trip at a time – no more than two hours in advance – and the shuttle service will run between 7 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. Students will be able to enter their preferred pick-up time, location and destination, and there will be an opportunity to include additional comments for the dispatcher.

Students can also sign up to receive email or text message notifications when the shuttle is on its way. Deployed vans will also be displayed in real time on a Google map on the 4-RIDE site, which will be accessible through the myGW portal or at www.4ride.gwu.edu.

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