Mixed reviews follow bus pass launch

St. Thomas University students will now have to use their bus pass on their phones and it’s receiving mixed reactions from students.

The St. Thomas University Students’ Union, in partnership with Fredericton Transit and HotSpot Parking, launched a new bus pass on Aug. 23. In order to use it, students have to access to the HotSpot Parking app.

Jillian Foster, second-year English and gender studies major, thinks the change is unnecessary.

“I think it’s overcomplicating a system that already worked,” she said.

“The card has a date [on it], so couldn’t they just pay attention to that or have different coloured stickers? I just think there’s a better way to do it than making it all online.”

Students can download the app for free and use their student ID to redeem their passes. At first, the app was asking for a $2 fee per month, a bug that has since been corrected.

The system was launched to prevent fraud, improve accuracy, and collect data from students to determine what routes they use the most (Alex Dascalu/AQ).

Husoni Raymond, president of the STUSU, has received mixed reviews on the app. He said it will take  some time for students to get used to, but they’ll appreciate the more accurate service it provides.

“We’ve heard students complain … they want to know when buses are cancelled instantaneously instead of going to the bus stop, not seeing it, and then finding out that the bus is cancelled,” said Raymond.

Kaitlyn Ann Kelley, a second-year anthropology major student, feels the new system is more convenient because most students have their phones and would have to carry fewer things.

“I know I was always forgetting…to take my card with me,” she said. “It’s just simpler going onto an app, click it and show it to the bus driver.”

The new bus pass system was launched to prevent fraud from people who were using their cards without being enrolled at STU, improve the accuracy of the bus system and collect data that reflects which routes students use the most, said Raymond.

The contract was negotiated by last year’s President Brianna Workman and Vice-President Student Life Wasiimah Joomun. The former student representative council approved the motion to implement the system.

Raymond said he’s heard students ask for more buses on frequently used routes. He added the data the app collects will enable the STUSU to ask Fredericton Transit to put more buses on routes students use the most, such as the 11S Prospect and 10N Carlisle.

The app, which doesn’t require data, said Raymond, will also provide instant notifications when buses are cancelled.

“The app is a solution to all of these issues.”

Students who don’t have a phone or can’t use the app for other reasons can request a paper pass from Financial Services.

Students were notified of the change via e-mail on Aug. 23.

Raymond said data collected from the app will allow the STUSU to ask more buses on routes students use the most (Alex Dascalu/AQ).

STU transitioned their student e-mail server from Gmail to Outlook in early August. Foster said this is why a lot of people didn’t know about the bus pass system change.

“People are figuring out how to use that, and then they miss that e-mail,” she said.

Foster doesn’t think students should have to rely on technology.

“I’m here from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m., so my phone is going to die,” she said.

Raymond said that if students are experiencing problems with the app, they can contact HotSpot customer service.

“These are all new improvements coming up, and this is just the first step to improve the service for our students,” he said.

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