GPS brings game-changing results to school bus routing

Technology and personal expertise mean tighter and more accurate trips to school
By: | Issue: October, 2018 | Thought Leadership
August 30, 2018

What does the routing process look like at First Student?

We provide transportation services to more than 1,000 school districts in the U.S. and Canada. We pride ourselves on having a customized approach to a district’s unique transportation needs. At its core, successful routing is still the process of getting all students to school and back home safely and on time, using the optimal number of buses. Routers must consider travel and bell times, ride eligibility, transportation rules, hazard zones, and surface-level factors such as walk-to-stop distances. The data must be accurate to achieve the best outcome. We provide our routers with what they need to accomplish this.

How can routing experts help districts?

Our experts assess the district’s current routing plans to determine if they’re efficient or if they can reduce the number of vehicles required. We make recommendations for implementing these changes with the least amount of disruption. Hiring, training, managing and retaining well-qualified routing talent is difficult for a district. With our new First Transportation Solutions offering, districts can contract this entire process to us.

What qualities does First Student look for in a bus router?

We pursue problem-solvers—people with strong analytical and technical skills, who have a passion for attention to detail. A router interacts with drivers, dispatchers, administrators and teachers, so excellent communication skills, patience and perseverance are important qualities.

As GPS becomes more sophisticated, how will bus routing change?

GPS is becoming essential for building and maintaining accurate routes, stop sequences, etc. GPS also helps track and manage driver route compliance. Improved route compliance can produce operating cost savings through better time and fuel management. Accurate routes are essential for scenario modeling, in which the potential impact on transportation requirements of changes such as school openings or closings is studied for districts.

How will routers leverage these advances in technology?

As tech advances, so will our ability to assist districts with optimizing their transportation needs. These applications rely on accurate routes and bus location data to deliver their functionality—again, byproducts of GPS tech. Finally, a Google Maps-type of navigation is being ported to school bus navigation via onboard computers, and it is facilitated using GPS. We consistently participate in training so we can serve our communities.

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