Sep 26 2017

Technology Optimizes School Bus Routes and Enhances Safety

Sensors, cameras and apps create efficiencies for all stakeholders.

Today’s school buses have been leveraged to deliver more than just students to and from school. Rural districts have placed wireless access points on buses to give students a chance to do school work on the way home. And an inner-city district has found a way to convert a bus into a mobile classroom for troubled students to get their GED diplomas.

But technology doesn’t just transform a school bus into something else, it can also help bus drivers do their jobs even better and deliver peace of mind to parents.

Apps and Tracking Bring Transparency, Convenience

When surveyed last year, 60 percent of parents indicated they want tech to update them when a bus is running late and 59 percent want an app to track the bus.

Some schools have answered this call. School Transportation News reports that Alliance City School District in Ohio uses a GPS-enabled app called Here Comes the Bus to inform parents where a bus is and how long before it arrives. For school districts, this also adds efficiencies because it helps eliminate calls from parents looking for their child’s bus.

Youngstown City School District, also in Ohio, rolled out an app this fall that allows parents to look up the precise whereabouts of their child thanks to a Z-Pass card that students use to swipe a sensor in the bus. Also, bus drivers are issued a tablet to keep track of the students on their bus.

“There’ll never be a question as to whether a child belongs on their bus or not,” says Colleen Murphy-Penk, the district’s chief of transportation, in an article on The Vindicator. “They can even look kids up and tell them what bus they’re supposed to be on if that’s not their assigned bus.”

The tracking technology also helps evaluate the safety of each driver, as dispatchers can see the location and speed of each bus.

Cameras and Sensors Upgrade Transportation Safety

In addition to convenience, beefing up technology on school buses can help to improve driver safety. Some schools in Connecticut have drivers use a wireless device to monitor pre-service checks — like brake responses and emergency door inspections, the Norwich Bulletin reports. The device then sends the report to a supervisor.

The buses are also equipped with cameras that schools find useful in cases of theft or bullying, but can give insight into driver conduct, too. These cameras can also catch other drivers who ignore the school bus’s stop sign as students are boarding and departing.

Steven_Kriemadis/Getty Images

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