Off Campus College Transport has announced a new bus upgrade, again. After already investing $3,500 in a scanner system that we’ll never use, the company is now looking into yet another generation of scanners.
Citing a need for quantifying the demand for specific bus routes, OCCT announced its plan to implement new ID scanners — complete with Wi-Fi and GPS capabilities — by the end of the semester. This comes just half a year after OCCT spent thousands of student dollars on a new scanning system that they opted not to use, as anyone who’s been on a bus this year has noticed. Right now, you can just walk onto the bus from any stop. It’s pretty convenient, actually, saving the hassle of digging around for your ID. So just to be clear, what’s the point of this upgrade exactly?
The way we see it, the newest ID scanners will serve two purposes. First, they will track the amount of passengers on each bus, noting when buses reach capacity and which routes are most popular at which times. This data, presumably, will help improve efficiency. Second, the ID scanners will weed out would-be passengers who aren’t enrolled at Binghamton University and consequently aren’t entitled to ride OCCT buses.
We’re going to question OCCT’s logic on this one. Are the bus ID scanners really necessary? Especially with more students than ever living Downtown and the budget clearly available, shouldn’t we be focused on getting a more frequent bus system to students? OCCT needs to re-prioritize. They need to accommodate us. They need to start listening to the cries of students who stand by as their bus to class drives by.
The funding for OCCT buses, operation costs and drivers comes out of our Student Activity fee. As such, it’s not entirely unreasonable that we might take an interest in how this money is spent. Our concern is that OCCT has opted for unnecessary technological gadgets when a simpler system would have sufficed.
What about just checking student IDs? It works for the bouncers Downtown. It’s free and easy to use. Fake IDs may be expected on State Street but face it, no one is fabricating BU IDs to bum rides on the blue bus.
Anyone who has ever tried boarding the 9 a.m. Westside bus at a Downtown stop knows the sinking feeling of the “Bus Full” sign flashing as it drives away. The 2 p.m. bus? Not as much of a risk. We know that from riding the buses — not because we’re analyzing data fed to us by the newest gadgets. Call us old-fashioned, but maybe just talking to frequent bus riders and keeping note of which routes are too cramped up could give OCCT staff a good feel for what needs improving.
OCCT, except for those few isolated routes and times, is generally a great, efficient student service. We’d like to keep it that way.
We should be focusing less on having an up-to-date scanner and an automatic “Bus Full” sign and more on making the buses not full.