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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

UCity on-demand ride request feature remains unused


An on-demand ride request feature that launched March 1 within St. Joe’s transportation application, TripShot, has, so far, had no users, with students finding the feature to be buggy and confusing.

Since the app’s launch last fall, 811 St. Joe’s students have downloaded TripShot since the app’s launch in fall 2023, said David Finnie, assistant vice president of Public Safety and Security. TripShot’s functions include real-time shuttle tracking, maps of shuttle routes and, most recently, the on-demand ride request feature. TripShot replaced the University City campus’ former transportation application, PennTransit, which had an on-demand ride request feature that provided escorts for students throughout West Philadelphia.

In a Feb. 28 email to the St. Joe’s community, Finnie said the feature would provide on-demand transportation for UCity students around the UCity campus, West Philadelphia and Center City between 5 p.m. and midnight, Monday through Friday, as of March 1. He added that the new feature would allow St. Joe’s to “track rider data accurately and control pick-up and drop-off stops.”

Soon after the on-demand feature was introduced, students reported experiencing zoning-related error messages prohibiting them from requesting escorts. Students also reported that the feature failed to show up within the app altogether. 

In an April 8 email to The Hawk, Finnie said the on-demand feature was turned on and should be accessible to students in ride request zones on the UCity campus. However, Liang Jun Ren ’25, PharmD ’27 looked for the feature around 6:30 p.m. April 8 and said he could not find it. 

Ren, who is a student senator from the UCity campus, said UCity students have been looking forward to using TripShot since it replaced PennTransit but have felt let down. 

“I was looking forward to this,” Ren said. “I was hyping it up. I was making sure that we can actually have a chance to use this to replace PennTransit. But I’ve not been able to provide evidence [or] provide support for my claims.”

Ren said given the UCity campus’ location in Philadelphia, not having a reliable on-demand ride request feature raises safety concerns. 

“A lot of people, a lot of students especially, feel unsafe traveling at night without proper escort [or] without [a] proper on-demand feature,” Ren said. 

Ren said in lieu of utilizing the on-demand feature, UCity students have found alternatives to traveling home. These alternatives include calling Ubers, which can be costly, and accompanying friends on their walks home. 

“Whether it is due to not knowing that we can call an escort, or due to being uncomfortable calling an escort, I do not know anybody, that in my experience, [has] called an escort for anywhere other than going from campus to campus,” Ren said.

Other students described TripShot as confusing to navigate. Kailey Luo ’25 said she struggled to get past the starting screen.  

“I can’t even access anything because you have to start with putting in a system or school, or something of that sort, to even get to that menu,” Luo said. “I couldn’t even get to that.” 

MarieClaire Schoucair ’25, who said she was skeptical about trying the feature as she was unsure if a potential driver could see her location from their end, said she’d like to see better communication from St. Joe’s about overall transportation measures, such as Public Safety escorts. Ren similarly said he’d like improved communication about transportation, especially in regards to shuttles, which are also tracked through the TripShot app.

Ren said from his perspective, there has not been much transparency about transportation changes and would appreciate it if students were updated about changes, whether that be in the form of a website or through a feature within TripShot. 

Ren said Finnie discussed concerns about TripShot with the University Student Senate at their March 25 meeting, telling senators that The Office of Public Safety was currently working to ensure the app functions as it was advertised. 

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Hannah Pajtis
Hannah Pajtis, Features Editor
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