Students in need of a ride will soon be able to find the locations and precise arrival times of Yale shuttles online.

The Yale University Parking and Transit Office plans to install Global Positioning System equipment in all of the shuttles by March 2007, University officials said. A number of students said they think the campus shuttle system is inefficient and could be improved by the new technology.

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Donald Relihan, director of support services for the Traffic Department, said the University has prioritized improving the shuttle system in light of increasing use.

“With annual ridership growing at a rate of over 30 percent for the past two years, the need for better tools and technology became evident to better manage this valuable service,” he said.

Vice President for Administration Janet Lindner said half of the shuttles will have GPS at the start of the spring semester, and the rest of the systems will be installed within a few months.

“We’re testing it this semester to make sure it works as well in the field as it does in demonstrations,” she said.

Lindner said University officials have been consulting with student organizations — including the Yale College Council, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate and the Graduate Student Assembly — for about year on the possible benefits of the GPS program.

Students will be able to log onto a Web site and find the exact location of the shuttles and the precise time that they will arrive at a given destination. Although transit officials declined to disclose the cost of the program, they said students will be able to use the new system at no cost.

Relihan said he hopes the GPS program will make the shuttle system more precise and reliable.

“Dispatchers will become more efficient in dispatching their vehicles and they will also be able to communicate more accurate information to the community,” he said. “Door-to-door vehicles will now be dispatched based on their location and their proximity to each pick up location.”

Lindner said one problem with the efficiency of current system stems from the fact that many students wait in their rooms as long as possible before stepping outside, especially in cold weather. The program will likely boost shuttle use and help students familiarize themselves with the transit routes, Lindner said, since they will be able look up locations on the Web.

Many students said the current shuttle system seems inefficient and could be improved by the planned GPS system. Some said they become frustrated and choose to walk when the shuttles take longer than expected to arrive or when they miss the vehicles entirely.

Meredith Parks ’07 — who takes a graduate course at the School of Medicine — said she must regularly make a 20-minute trek from the medical school to central campus.

“I would love to know what time [shuttles] come because I never see them,” she said.

John Ricotta ’08, a regular shuttle rider, said he often has to wait for the shuttles to arrive.

“I like the idea,” he said. “I’m always waiting a long time, so I think [the addition of GPS] will be positive.”

But some students said the problems inherent in the shuttle system will not be solved by GPS.

“I don’t think perpetually late Yale students will want to take the time to check a Web site to see when the next bus will arrive,” Peter Luehring-Jones ’09 said.