Venom tracker off-track as semester starts

FAMU's Venom buses seat only 25.
Photo Submitted by Olivia Abney

The newly updated FAMU App finally made its debut with the long-anticipated Venom Express Tracker feature.

What seems like forever ago to returning students, nearly one year after its initial conception, the shuttle tracking mobile app went live just in time for the first day of classes.

In an email sent to all FAMU students, William Hudson, vice president of student affairs, said, “This is important. It provides students an opportunity to have real-time locations of the shuttles that bring students to campus, so they have specific waiting times and to improve customer service.”

Its intent was to help students with their time management skills, but it already has its drawbacks.

The tracking system features a weekday and weekend/holiday route map and 20 stops titled “Campus Rec,” Palmetto 1,” “Palmetto 2,”  etc., and off-campus stops like “College Club” along with their anticipated wait times, the key word being anticipated.

In a series of tweets, Aisha Stinson, a senior history education major said, “The venom tracker app is kinda inaccurate.” “It went from being 7 minutes away to 20, how?”

“So the palmetto stop isn’t actually palmettos.”

However, the app does not show what color the arriving shuttle is, since the location of every shuttle stop marker corresponds with the color of a shuttle.

To better the app, the routes could be differentiated by reflecting the colors of the three shuttles, since each utilizes different stops around and off campus, instead of just the current single thick green line.

Other students seem to the think the app works a little too well.

Senior ore-veterinary student Zia Williams also used Twitter to voice her opinion on the tracking feature just one day after its launch, tweeting, “The venom tracker is amazing but if you noticed these buses are like ummm but so big … two choices either start waking up at a time to walk to class or petition for bigger buses.”

This comes over three years after FAMU dissolved its partnership using the single StarMetro large capacity transit bus and replaced it with the university’s three 25-passenger shuttles that started running in fall 2016.

Perhaps in the future, an updated system will display current capacity for students to prepare alternative transportation arrangements.

Like every student, maybe the tracking system is just getting out its first week jitters and with detailed feedback, improvements will be made.