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JoeyTracker still broken, founders look to make repairs

Published: Friday, November 9, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 12, 2012 19:11


Oliver Porter / The Tufts Daily

Representatives from TuftsLife, the Department of Environmental and Public Safety and Joseph’s Transportation are working together to ensure that the JoeyTracker will be back in service soon.

Since Joseph’s Transportation switched one of its Joey shuttles three weeks ago, the GPS-enabled JoeyTracker has not worked, leaving Tufts community members without a way to determine the location of the shuttle along its route from the Medford/Somerville campus to Davis Square. 

Unlike the old shuttle, the new bus does not have a hardwired GPS. Although Joey drivers are provided with portable GPS devices, they are not accustomed to picking them up for each shift, Administrative Services Supervisor Louis Galvez III said. 

“It was an unfortunate oversight,” Galvez said. “I want to make sure there’s uninterrupted service until the end of the school year, and by the end of the school year, come up with a long term solution so that this doesn’t happen again.”

The JoeyTracker, a free service run by TuftsLife, provides real-time locations of the Joey and arrival times for each of its destinations. Students have been able to use this technology through smartphone applications such as “JoeyTracker” and “iJumbo” or by texting “FindJoey” to 41411.

However, these apps have also been malfunctioning since they download data from the original JoeyTracker website. As of now, the official shuttle schedules are only available on the Tufts Administrative Services website.

Former TuftsLife President Mike Vastola (E ’12) created the JoeyTracker two years ago after the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate conceived the idea in 2000 but never followed through. 

“We took it over, and we got it done,” Vastola said. “We were pretty happy about it.” 

Although Vastola currently supervises the JoeyTracker, the Department of Public and Environmental Safety (DPES) serves as the liaison between Tufts and Joseph’s Transportation. In order to fix the JoeyTracker, representatives from each organization will need to collaborate, Galvez said. 

“It’s kind of a three-way collaboration,” Galvez said. “We’re trying to help in the middle. If there’s a GPS problem, we try to figure out if it’s Joseph’s.”

When Vastola first created the JoeyTracker, the TCU Senate purchased portable GPS units for the New England Conservatory/Museum School shuttle and the weekend Davis Square shuttle, as well as a hard-wired unit for the weekday Davis Square shuttle. 

Vastola plans to install an additional GPS system in the new Boston Avenue shuttle, according to Galvez.

“I want everything up and running by the end of November,” Galvez said.

Vastola, who is regularly informed via email whenever the GPS units are offline, echoed the hope of fixing the problem soon.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure that the service survives and has a long life span and has continuous uptime,” Vastola said. 

Although they are not involved with the management of the JoeyTracker, the Office for Campus Life (OCL) has fielded many student complaints, Director Joe Golia said. 

“We also do not want to be the office that is constantly getting yelled at,” Golia said.

The two JoeyTracker displays, installed in the Mayer Campus Center two summers ago, now show unintelligible codes, Golia said.

“This is a building for the students, and if something’s broken, I want it fixed,” Golia said. “It really bothers me that this thing has been broken for weeks now and I don’t know what’s going on.” 

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