Cities Launch School Bus Tracking

GPS-based school bus tracking systems, some with smartphone apps, help school districts better communicate bus location information with parents.

In several U.S. cities large and small, parents are now able to track their children's buses for the 2016-2017 school year with a range of school bus tracking systems.

The Austin Independent School District (AISD), with a population of about 85,000 students across 129 schools, has launched the WheresTheBus App for its school bus tracking system. According to THEJournal, the school district is using the technology to track 500 school buses transporting about 23,000 students.

AISD can monitor and adjust more than 370 bus routes every day as needed. A parent authorized secure login access can also track a child's bus on its route. This will reduce the number of calls parents make to find out where a bus is.

The app works with an existing GPS system, upgraded for the purpose last year at a cost of $194,000, according to KXAN. The district will spend $155,000 per year to operate the app-based technology.

In the small town of Stevens Point, Wis., parents are using Mystop, another GPS-based app for school bus tracking. The Stevens Point Area Public School District paid about $23,000 for the tracking devices, according to the Stevens Point Journal.

In Chesapeake, Va., all public school buses in the 500+ fleet now have a Zonar 2020 tablet GPS system and Harris P25 700 MHz radios.

“Our number one concern is student safety,” David Benson, director of pupil transportation for Chesapeake Public Schools, told the Virginian-Pilot.

This school bus tracking system is tablet-based. They scan data tags, generating electronic driver logs, which help the bus drivers automate their daily inspections reports, formerly recorded by pen and paper. They can also send mechanical data directly to bus technicians back at the district's repair shop.

While this system does not have a smartphone app, “When parents call, we’ll be able to tell them exactly where a bus is located,” said Benson.

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