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Bongo updated to accommodate bus route cuts

BY KAITLIN DEWULF | SEPTEMBER 04, 2014 5:00 AM

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Following the bus chaos that marked the University of Iowa’s first week of classes, the Bongo app used by the Cambus system was successfully updated to reflect recent route changes and cuts.

UI students can attest to the frustration that accompanied an understaffed Cambus last week, but using a phone app that wasn’t updated with the Cambus schedule changes made matters worse.

Riders will have no longer have to worry about the reliability of their Bongo apps.

“Students can trust the Bongo app now,” said Brian McClatchey, an assistant director of UI management services. “The new schedule is out, so those who have the app can see these changes and plan accordingly.”

McClatchey said when Cambus makes changes to its schedule, it has to send them out to a second company that provides the app software. He said the company then puts these changes into effect, but at its leisure.

“The software company has a lot of requests at this time of year from people making changes to their service,” McClatchey said. “But we really pushed them to move us up in priority and get it done quickly.”

McClatchey said his staff is unable to modify the Bongo app, and that is why there was such a delay in updating it.

“We wish Bongo was something that we could go into and modify a route change, but we have to go through the company,” he said. “I know this first week was confusing, and this didn’t help make it a smooth transition.”

McClatchey said during the first week of school, there are about 25,000 Cambus rides per day. He said he hopes Cambus ridership isn’t negatively affected because of the problems it ran into because of being understaffed.

However, some UI students were so fed up with the inaccuracy of the Bongo app that they stopped using it and the Cambus entirely.

“After the first couple days were a huge mess, I just started riding my bike to the Studio Arts Building instead,” UI senior Aubrey Hart said.

She said the confusion caused by the Bongo app was stressful because she couldn’t rely on it to get her to class on time.

UI senior Allison Valenzuela also ditched the bus system last week. She said she started driving to her classes, because it would have taken unreasonably long to use the buses.

Valenzuela said the Bongo app is supposed to allow the university to let students know when their buses are coming and leaving. She said the app should have been used last week to keep Studio Arts riders informed, and it’s unfortunate it couldn’t be.

“For some kids, the Bongo app is their lifeline when it comes to getting places,” Valenzuela said.

She said utilizing the app would have made the situation much less frustrating to bus riders.

Though the Cambus staff could not show route changes through the Bongo app, McClatchey said, the department put out A-frame signs at several bus stops that listed alternate routes to the Studio Arts/Art Building West route. Their purpose was for Studio Arts riders to reference in response to an uproar of complaints.

He said signs have also been put up in the Main Library, and the Cambus website is fully updated.
Valenzuela said the A-frame sign grabbed her attention, and she appreciated the effort because late is better than never.

“More helpful than anything, getting the company to update the Bongo app was key,” McClatchey said. “We hope this helps students during these next few weeks.”


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