The Next Ride app, commonly known as Niner Transit, is replaced by Passio Go! as the newest form of bus tracking on campus as of Feb. 21, 2022.
According to Douglas Lape, director of Parking and Transportation Services (PaTS), the sudden app transfer was due to last-minute technological changes. The Next Ride App will no longer function and should not be utilized for tracking buses on the UNC Charlotte campus.
"With the sun setting on 3G technology, the GPS devices on the buses were no longer compatible with network providers," said Lape.
AT&T, the network provider, had not effectively communicated with the vendor of the GPS products leading to a last-minute notice to UNC Charlotte's PaTS that the product would soon be unavailable.
PaTS decided to utilize Passio Go! as a trial run since the app already functioned within the bus system for internal use. They were able to move the function over to GPS tracking quickly; the transition took only three days to complete.
"We were able to keep things going by only switching the app," stated Michael Christenbury, assistant director for transportation.
The app switch has had initially good user feedback, according to Christenbury. He is communicating with Dick Beekman, student body president, regarding student responses.
"The only complaints we have received are about not being able to see buses on the old app," stated Christenbury.
According to user feedback from PaTS, Passio Go! is also more reliable in location and arrival time.
"The Next Ride app would often freeze, but the technology with Passio Go! is better, more specific and smoother," said Christenbury.
According to students who have reached out to PaTS, Passio Go! has better maps and visibility.
However, there are some enhancement requests that PaTS has reported to Passio Go!. These include an update for the IOS platform as Android devices received an update the week of March 6. The update is for bugs in the system and is not substantial.
According to Lape, bus drivers are neither positively nor negatively affected by the app switch as it is only a backend public-facing change.
The trial run of Passio Go! will continue to the end of the spring 2022 semester. PaTS will then reassess the contract and decide to remain with the app or switch to a new platform based on student feedback.
At this time, PaTS sees no need for immediate changes or improvements but is waiting for more feedback in the coming months.
The app is available for download in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. To access UNC Charlotte's bus routes when setting up the app, select UNC Charlotte or Niner Transit as the agency.
Once the agency is selected, access to bus routes, stops and locations will be available. Clicking on map icons will give more information, including current bus capacity, estimated arrival time and stops.
The bus icon in the top right will give access to specific routes and bus locations.
The ability to "favorite" frequent bus stop locations is also available for quick access.
Paratransit vehicles are also available for viewing in the new app, and desktop viewing is available through the Passio Go! website.
The app switch will not affect any other bus procedures.
Passio Go! is utilized by many other universities and public transportation systems, including apartment complexes and shuttle systems.
Feedback can be provided to the PaTS office Communication Center or through the online feedback system on the PaTS website.