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News


tion back through the Internet.” A lot has changed since then. Ev-


eryday Wireless is now known as Sy- novia Solutions, the factory telemat- ics provider for Blue Bird Connect. Cellular GPS data is also affordable, reliable and readily available. Synovia and Blue Bird offered the first to factory-installed onboard telematics solution a couple of years ago and have since been joined by the teams of Zonar-Tomas Built Buses and Tyler Technologies-IC Bus. With the options available to the


industry, Creach assumed that when he took the director job at Brevard that he could implement something similar to Orange County. But he soon realized Brevard was hurting financially, the result of NASA discontinuing the Space Shuttle program and a mass exodus of jobs and local tax money. Te economy is slowly improving with the new port open for cruise liners and cargo container vessels, but Creach is still making his case for GPS and telematics. He said he’s made headway in getting the money folks to understand transportation needs, but more so he’s trying to get the administration to realize paren- tal expectations. Creach realized that everywhere


parents go, they have their GPS-en- abled smartphones in tow, and they expect their children’s school buses to be similarly equipped. And they are incredulous that buses don’t have GPS or telematics, and that it’s possible and realistic for them to be allowed to break down while on route. “Tey don’t recognize and realize that tracking school buses in real time and doing telemetrics is a whole different ballgame,” said Creach. “I’ve been struggling to get that message to our leaders, that we don’t have a choice because of safety, and cost savings and basically reli- ability, we absolutely have to move forward. Time is money.” Creach preaches the benefits


onboard diagnostics will have for the bus maintenance program, giving


26 School Transportation News • FEBRUARY 2016


his technicians more control over their workflow by scheduling rather than reacting to repairs, minimizing idling and providing data to trainers on driver behaviors that can lead to maintenance issues. If Creach is a poster boy for an operation that wants telematics but has yet to implement it—and there are plenty of others out there like him—Chuck Tanzer and Saratoga Springs City Schools in upstate New York epitomize how onboard diagnostics can transform a mainte- nance program. Last winter, one of the harshest to hit the East Coast in some time, Saratoga Springs began pilot testing Navistar’s real-time OnCommand Connection fleet dashboard on its IC Bus models “Last winter was a very demand- ing winter here, it was extremely cold,” said Tanzer. “We had a record amounts of snow fall, and it just blossomed into a winter to remem- ber…and not in a good way.” Luckily for Tanzer, the district’s fleet management director, and his technicians OnCommand proved vital in remotely identifying vehi- cles there were not likely start in


sub-zero temperatures. Tanzer said the district had just migrated staff to new smartphones, and the OCC app allowed him to check battery voltage from the comfort of home. Buses that didn’t meet the minimum requirements for battery voltage im- mediately indicated to him that they likely wouldn’t start for the driver at route startup time. “We could apply our resources to those (failing) vehicles first on the days that were extremely cold and not be chasing our tail later,” said Tanzer. “If we can isolate those vehicles that are probably not going to start and address them first, then more definitely we can get the other ones up and going in a timelier fashion.” Onboard diagnostics also allows


Tanzer to tap into a vehicle with a malfunctioning indicator lamp in the dash and in real time determine if the driver can continue with the route until returning to the yard for maintenance or if a replacement bus is needed. “What essentially we are trying to do is rule out the possibility of on-the-road failure as much as


Shane Denton and Dan Boyea at Shenendehowa Central


Schools in New York diagnose an EGR code.


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