Mayor Richard J. Berry visited the University of New Mexico campus recently to highlight the success of the “Where’s My Bus?” app, a collaborative project between the city and the university. During the ceremony, UNM President Robert G. Frank also announced an expansion of the service and detailed a new contest for another mobile application. 

Mayor Berry said the successful partnership between UNM and an Albuquerque-based app development firm has resulted in an annual operational cost savings of about $180,000 to taxpayers. The app, which tracks the locations of busses on city routes, cut the number of transit-related telephone calls to the 311 Citizen Call Center by 120,000 in the first year of its use.

“At a rate of $1.86 per call, it amounts to quite a cost savings.” Mayor Berry said. “The app averages about 1,000 visits each work day and we think the savings will add up to about a half million dollars this year.”

After the Mayor detailed the cost savings, President Frank pointed out the popular app now includes UNM shuttle service. The expansion is designed to help riders quickly pinpoint the location of shuttles that transport passengers to and from parking lots and bus stops on campus.

Frank also announced a new mobile app contest that challenges developers to use UNM's Open Data Repository to create a new “Events” app to help users locate upcoming events scheduled nearby. This contest is open to all UNM students, faculty, and staff, although students are the only ones eligible for the cash prizes. First place will receive $5,000. For more information, visit: App Contest.

“Partnering with the city on apps that improve our services is a win-win endeavor.” Frank said. “It benefits the community and our campus, but also provides great real world experience for our students who are developing and refining the technology for these applications.”

The mayor presented letters of appreciate and city coffee mugs to UNM IT’s Randall Johnson and Richard Valdez for their work on the “Where’s my Bus? project. He also awarded a “Center of the City” medallion to President Frank in recognition of the continued support and numerous collaboration efforts between UNM and the city.

After the ceremony, the mayor, the president and other city and university staff members took a short ride across campus in a shuttle bus, provided by UNM Parking and Transportation (PATS).  President Frank also mentioned that UNM will, over the course of the next six months or so, be collecting feedback from customers on the functionality of the app and suggestions as to how it can be improved. PATS has contributed approximately $30,000 toward this project through the purchase and installation of on-board equipment for shuttle buses, plus staff time.