ASMSU proposes CATA bus-tracking app

Graduate student Kityu Lau has had some close calls trying to catch the bus.

Rushing to get to campus on time from her apartment in Spartan Village Apartments, Lau often hurries to the bus stop only to see the bus rolling away.

“Sometimes the bus comes earlier or, more (commonly), just two minutes early, (and) that’s why I miss it,” she said.

Missing the bus by a hair might soon be a thing of the past as ASMSU is proposing a new mobile application to track the real-time location of Capital Area Transportation Authority, or CATA, buses.

ASMSU is MSU’s undergraduate student government.

ASMSU plans to launch a downloadable app to allow students to see bus routes on their mobile phones or tablets using a GPS installed in CATA buses. The program would apply to buses that run on campus and Route 1.

ASMSU canceled its annual goal-setting retreat slated for last weekend to use the $5,000 budget toward developing the app, ASMSU Director of Media Relations Samantha Artley said.

The plan to develop an app has been discussed in the past, and ASMSU has begun conversations with CATA and the university to continue progress, said Chris Schotten, ASMSU vice chair for operations and finance.

“What it came down to was man power and being able to dedicate financial resources and people’s time to it,” he said.

CATA could not be reached for comment.

Indiana University has a similar bus-tracking program, which will serve as ASMSU’s model, Schotten said.

Schotten said Indiana University’s system cost about $11,000. The price for developing ASMSU’s app could be in the same range, Schotten said, but considering CATA is a private company not run by the university, the prices could vary.

Additionally, CATA already has begun equipping its buses with GPS, which could save ASMSU money in the program’s development, Schotten said.

The app’s development still is in its beginning stages as details have yet to be worked out, but in early discussions, the university’s reception has been positive, Schotten said.

Media arts and technology sophomore Yongjun Wu said the app would be helpful for students trying to catch the bus before class.

Wu said many subways in big cities have an interactive map for passengers to see where their trains are and said it would be beneficial if ASMSU’s app functioned the same way.

Schotten said he hoped the app would be available to students for free, but the overall cost of developing the app might necessitate charging for it. The app is not expected to be ready until next fall at the earliest, he said.

Lau said sometimes, when she misses the bus, she faces a 30 minute walk to campus instead of waiting for another bus to come by.

Being able to track the right bus would allow her to catch the bus more regularly, she said.

“I would use it if it’s available,” Lau said. “No one wants to miss the bus.”

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