From a few cable television networks in the 50s to the vast depths of the internet in the 21st century, we are now able to access more information than ever before. Technology has transformed the way we get information in our personal lives, and it is also capable of transforming the way that school districts get information. However, adoption rates of k-12 transportation technology are relatively low compared to public transit.
With calendar-based scheduling and AVL/GPS and student tracking technologies, school districts can gather an incredible amount of information that can be used to improve service, reduce costs and address driver shortages.
Despite the possibilities, the authors of a report published by Bellweather Education Partners claim that “school transportation still looks much like it has for the past 50 or more years.” A 2015 survey conducted by School Bus Fleet found that 54% of school districts use some kind of software to assist routing, 33% used GPS to monitor their bus’s movements and only 5% used student tracking technology. School districts often have limited funding, which is why many are hesitant to deploy technology. However, the data extracted through technology can actually help districts deal with reduced funding and other challenges.
Let’s explore how:
A 2015 School Bus Fleet survey found that 28 percent of districts are experiencing a “severe or desperate” driver shortage. Only 6% of districts that responded said they do not have a driver shortage issue at all.
By building more efficient schedules, districts may be able to take vehicles and drivers off the road while still maintaining the same level of service.
Many districts are being faced with reduced funding and lower levels of ridership. Without routing and GPS software designed for school transportation, it is challenging to maintain service without expending more resources. With these technologies, districts can route around road-blocks, shorten routes, reduce driver-hours and reduce idle time – all of which help save money.
Many districts base their ridership figures on eligibility, meaning that they account for all students who qualify for school-provided transportation, but not all students that are eligible or registered actually take the bus. With student tracking, districts can plan for the actual students that take the bus, and potentially adjust for a lower capacity.
While many television programs of the 1950’s are still great today, the same does not apply to the old way of managing student transportation. It’s time to do away with yesterday’s pen and paper scheduling and embrace calendar-based scheduling that integrates with GPS/AVL technologies; the current environment demands it.