Bus routing software goes the distance to manage safety, savings, driver shortage
For years, bus drivers at Shelby Eastern Schools in Indiana have built their own routes and communicated directly with parents about pickup locations and times. District staff did not know which students rode which bus or how to contact parents in an emergency.
That changed this school year with the implementation of online routing software Transfinder, which offers intuitive features to help the K-12 district maximize safety and efficiency along its 19 bus routes.
Keeping track of students
“Now, drivers have a list of students who should be on their bus, and we can easily notify them of exceptions, such as if a student is riding the bus for just one day,” says Katrina Falk (pictured), assistant director of transportation and communications for the rural district in Shelbyville, about 30 miles southeast of Indianapolis. “In cases of broken-down buses or a weather delay, school administrators can use Infofinder to see who is on the bus, then call parents.”
Because 15 buses are driven by owner-operators who bid on routes based on initial configurations, restructuring of stops will start in the new contract year, 2019-20, Falk says.
“We knew the routes were not efficient, so I used Transfinder to rebuild every single route for the next school year,” says Falk, who began her job at Shelby Eastern Schools in September. “I rode each bus and used the Wayfinder app to plot each stop on my cell phone. Back at the office, I uploaded the data, and Routefinder Pro built the routes.”
Restructuring leads to big savings
Falk tweaked routes to increase the number of curbside stops, which are mandatory for preschool and special needs students or if the road’s speed limit is 45 mph or higher.
“Transfinder helped us to get rid of any bus stop that might have been considered questionable or dangerous.”
“I was also able to eliminate a number of student crossings where the speed limit wasn’t so high,” Falk says. “Transfinder helped us to get rid of any bus stop that might have been considered questionable or dangerous.”
It also helped the district save money—$40,000 by restructuring existing routes and $40,685 by eliminating one route—that will be passed on, Falk says. “We are looking at having our driver pay increased substantially from the current rate,” she adds.
Falk uses Transfinder to develop contingency routes for when a bus is out of service, and to anticipate future needs. Employees use the digital transportation records, which are available at every school in the district, to answer parent questions and to notify them of last-minute changes to bus routes.
For more information, please visit transfinder.com