School Transportation: Tips for a Smoother September

School Transportation: Tips for a Smoother September

The start of the school year is just around the corner. Are you as prepared as you could be? We’ve been in the K-12 transportation software business for a long time, and over the years, we’ve had many conversations with school transportation administrators on how to start the school year off right. To help administrators prepare for the start of the school year, we decided to take the best ideas we’re heard and put them together in this handy blog for all to see!

With the right processes in place, you can avoid scheduling issues, eliminate data-entry errors and ensure routing is optimized. Read on to learn how.

Top Tips for September: 4 Ways to Avoid Issues and Optimize Service

1) Prepare for enrollment changes

Begin your new school year routing and scheduling early to avoid the summer rush. Prepare a process within the district to receive your graded up student files as early as possible. Also, ensure that your schools, IT department and the Transportation Department are working with the same student files and street names so that transportation changes are communicated seamlessly. To prevent students from receiving an incorrect transportation assignment, there should be a standard street name file that all parties utilize to avoid address misspellings. Organize a change request system to communicate to transportation staff, either through an electronic update process or a paper change request form system.

2) Ensure routing and scheduling is optimized: Audit legacy stops and new stops

Evaluate your legacy stops to ensure they are still at safe locations and are still needed. Has a driver been servicing the same stop(s) for many years? Have gradual changes around a stop gone unnoticed by the driver that sees the area every day and may not think to alert their manager?Delete all stops with no students assigned to them. When adding in new stops, consider safety policies such as streets that cannot be crossed and streets that are not safe to walk along. Test drive the routes prior to the new school year opening to validate times, traffic and safe stop locations.Make sure you are putting fresh eyes on legacy stops and routes instead of sticking with the status quo.

3) Avoid having un-routed students: Improve data entry

Misspelled names and addresses, and suffix discrepancies can cause students to be “missed” in the scheduling process. Is their pick-up location 123 E. Jones Avenue or 123 Jones Avenue? Is the child’s zip code 44060 or 44600? Remember, you are trying to match them to a map source.To avoid discrepancies in how this information is recorded, remind schedulers to double-check names and addresses, and have them follow a standardized chart of abbreviation usage, street names, with corresponding city and zip code information.

4) Get help from your technology partner: List your pain points

If you need some help managing scheduling changes, routing efficiency, or data entry in your scheduling software, you should feel comfortable asking your technology provider for assistance and tips. A technology provider that is a partner rather than just a vendor will be happy to help. Don’t struggle and come up with a work around solution that isn’t the one you truly want. Keep a list of all your pain points, and let your software support staff help you develop an action plan to address your concerns.

Start the School Year off on the Right Foot!

September is an exciting time in the school transportation office. Keep the energy in your office high by reducing unnecessary stresses. Avoid scheduling issues, eliminate data-entry errors and ensure routing is optimized by having the right processes in place! We hope you’re inspired to start implementing some of the tips from this blog at your district.

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