July 22, 2018 | ° F

RU Commuting? University students design new apps to track Rutgers buses

Photo by Edwin Gano |

Following HackRU, a biannual 24-hour hackathon, students Richard Chu, James Paik, Kenneth Li and Carin Yao further developed and recently released RU Direct, an Android app that updates bus arrivals in real-time. Following the development of RU Direct, student Kyle Bailey, a School of Engineering senior, developed RU There Yet, an iOS app that also tracks bus arrivals. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY EDWIN GANO / ASSOCIATE PHOTO EDITOR

As the start of the new school year rolls around, one unavoidable aspect of life on the Rutgers—New Brunswick campus is the bus system. In a span of two weeks, innovative Rutgers students ignited their entrepreneurial flair and independently launched two apps that build upon the existing NextBus App to facilitate the transit experience.

Students Richard Chu, James Paik, Kenneth Li and Carin Yao created RU Direct, an Android program that, according to their official website, is a “fast and intuitive app that helps you navigate the Rutgers University bus system.”

RU Direct provides a visual aid to accompany estimated bus arrival times. It shows where the buses are located, using maps that update real-time. The app provides users with a feature that maps out the fastest route between two points on campus.

“The reason we made the app was because we didn't like the slow and bulky Rutgers App,” said one of the creators on a Reddit post. “We kept light and fast in mind throughout the whole process.”

The app was initially a product of HackRU 2015 last spring, according to the same Reddit thread. The makers continued to work on and improve the app in order to make it marketable. The app, now active, is free of advertisements and open source.

"I actually downloaded this app after a quick search on Google Play thinking it was some official app and surprised that it actually worked!" said Reddit user bipbopboom. "Thanks for making a great app, it really saved my a-- a few times during the first week!"

In a similar vein to RU Direct, Kyle Bailey, a School of Engineering senior, launched RU There Yet, an app with likenesses to RU Direct.

RU There Yet, which Bailey also promoted on Reddit, runs on the iOS operating system. Much like its Android counterpart, RU Direct, RU There Yet enhances the user experience by including maps and current bus locations.

“Everything is from NextBus," Bailey said. "However, I do process the information a bit (differently). The directions algorithm is my own design.”

In his Reddit post, Bailey wrote that he is not affiliated with the makers of RU Direct, but he is considering making a version of RU There Yet that is compatible with the Android operating system.

Jared Egbutu, a Rutgers Business School sophomore, agreed with Shikha Patel, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, who preferred RU There Yet, citing its convenience and ability to plan out traveling more effectively.

Patel, who said she found out about RU There Yet through a Facebook page, said she would like to see estimated arrival times for the next three buses, as opposed to just one.

As a whole, whether students are developing more travel apps or not, Tim Zangara, a senior in the School of Arts and Sciences, said Rutgers should be supporting creative, entrepreneurial endeavors like these.

“If this is better and a Rutgers student made it, that’s what Rutgers should be supporting,” he said. “(They) should support products like these ... and train engineers to go and create these (apps).”

Francesca Falzon

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