Plans for an electronic bus sign take route at Montgomery Hall bus stop

Students gather outside the Montgomery Hall S.M.A.R.T bus stop, the future site for the campus’s first electronic bus route sign.

In response to complaints of students struggling to find accurate S.M.A.R.T bus times on the DoubleMap feature of the university-wide Bully Walk app or on the DoubleMap app itself, the Mississippi State University Student Association passed a resolution for a new electronic bus sign to be placed at the Montgomery Hall bus stop. The electronic bus sign, which would allow students to see accurate bus arrival and departures times, could be in place as soon as the upcoming academic year.

Will Baugh, a junior agricultural education, leadership and communications major and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Association senator, originally came up with the idea from the feedback of his fellow students who had become frustrated with the inaccuracies of DoubleMap’s bus schedules.

"We like to know where the bus is every time we get on it, and we also know that we’ve had problems in the past with the app working efficiently, and how people have said that the app does not work the way they wanted to," Baugh said.

Baugh first introduced the idea of an electronic bus stop sign to Amelia Abernathy, a freshman business administration major and the Director of History and Traditions of the Student Association Cabinet, who thought the sign would be a great idea to improve the DoubleMap bus system at MSU.

"Personally, I use the bus if it’s raining or to get from place to place if I don't want to move my car. Not only that, but the app has never been too accurate for me personally, so I know that it will be beneficial to those who use the bus as transit," Abernathy said.

With the agreement of the Student Association Senate and Cabinet, Abernathy and Baugh created a resolution that allotted the appropriate funds for an electronic bus sign at the Montgomery Hall bus stop, an ideal location for the new electronic sign because of its popularity with students and connection to all S.M.A.R.T bus routes.

The installation of the electronic bus sign will be coordinated by the MSU Parking and Transit Services Department as a whole, with MSU Parking and Transit Services Director Jeremiah Dumas serving as the lead coordinator for the project.

According to Baugh and Abernathy, a beta version of an electronic bus sign already exists inside the Old Main Academic Center beside the Old Main bus stop. However, the bus times shown on the screen can be inaccurate, and the sign does not function as well as most students would expect.

The new electronic sign will be an upgrade from the beta version and will display the real-time SMART bus service map that is currently found on the DoubleMap app. With updated technology, the sign will show accurate times of when a S.M.A.R.T bus will arrive, as well as tell in advance whether a bus is out of service before it arrives.

According to Abernathy, plans are in progress to install the Montgomery Hall electronic sign sometime within the next year. However, the sign may be installed as soon as the 2019 fall semester, allowing MSU freshmen easier access to S.M.A.R.T bus routes throughout Starkville.  

Senior communication major Laken Jones expressed her excitement over the new sign, stating how it will help her and others depend less on their smartphones and the inaccurate bus schedules on DoubleMap’s bus tracker app.

"DoubleMap is a beneficial app, but it drains my phone’s battery. By the end of the day, who knows if my phone will be dead or not. The electronic sign will help my phone’s battery and students without smartphones," Jones said.

After the installation of the Montgomery Hall bus stop electronic sign, Baugh and Abernathy hope more electronic bus signs can be installed at S.M.A.R.T bus stops in the future.

"Hopefully with our support and with our donation, DoubleMap will move forward to put out an electronic bus sign at the Montgomery Hall bus stop, then put one in all of them," Baugh said.

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