App Options Abound One of the many school bus locator

apps available is the Durham Bus Track- er App, which was launched in 2015 and is available at the Apple Store and Google Play. It can be used with any mobile device running on iOS, Android or Windows platforms as well as on home computers. Debra Gillmeister, senior director

of marketing for Durham’s parent company National Express Corporation, said the app is free of charge to school district customers and is available across the U.S. and Canada. Te app can also be tailored to NEC’s Petermann and Stock Transportation brands. “We have made locating the school

bus easy,” Gillmeister added. “Our app is fully integrated into our home-to- school transportation system and does not require any extra steps to connect

to routing or configure it for GPS connectivity.” Durham school district must opt in for access to the app, but then all parents need to do is complete a single sign-up via a secure website, a re- quirement for student authentication, explained Gillmeister. Parents or guard- ians are then able to view all of their children’s locations simultaneously, both securely and in near real time. “Parents know where the bus is on

the route, the scheduled stop time, and when it will arrive at their children’s stop,” she added. Feedback has been positive. “Our school district parents and administrative school district team members find the Durham Bus Tracker App very valuable,” said Dana Chandler, the outsourced operations

manager for Northwest ISD in Fort Worth, Texas. “It provides a sense of security and safety—since children and parents do not have to guess when the bus is arriving. Many parents need to leave for work prior to their children getting on the bus. With the app children can leave their home and only be outside for a short period of time. Tey really enjoy this when the weather is bad. “ Gillmeister said the Durham Bus

Tracker App currently covers more than 9,000 school bus routes. It is available in English and Spanish, with French being added later this year. With the increasing number of apps

that provide real-time location and arrival of school buses, here is what other custoemrs are saying about apps and how they are impacting local operations.

We asked readers to provide feedback on how several other brands are impacting local operations:

HERE COMES THE BUS BY SYNOVIA SOLUTIONS The largest benefits have been verification of bus locations for parent calls and more importantly in emergency situations where, for example, the police blockade a neighborhood, there is a school lockdown, a tanker truck with a gas leak and we needed to reroute, an active shooting, a life flight helicopter landed on a major road and closed access to homes and apart- ments, a hostage situation where the police have a neighbor- hood secured, impassable roads due to flooding, and drivers lost. All of these situations we were able to identify and reroute.

Michael Shields, Director of Transportation/Auxiliary Services Salem-Keizer (Oregon) Public Schools

INFOFINDER BY TRANSFINDER Everything is geo-coded. We know who we pick up, how many we pick up, when we drop them off. Parents can check to see how long the bus is going to be before it gets there.

Dr. William Collins, Superintendent Newington (Connecticut) Public School District

VERSATRANS MY STOP BY TYLER TECHNOLOGIES It’s been working very well for us. Customers are very re- ceptive when they find out it’s out there and it costs them absolutely nothing. A couple of weeks ago I received an email from our communications department. We were on a two hour delay, and one parent was sharing the My Stop story with another parent, saying that, ‘It’s worked really well for me. You should download the app.’ That was really good to see.

Mr. Anthony V. Jackson, Director of Transportation Bibb County (Georgia) School District

Z PASS Instead of calling the driver to find out if a student is on board and where they got off, you can just pull it up and within seconds and know when and where.

Michael Thompson, Director of Transportation East Grand School District #2 in Granby, Colorado

38 School Transportation News • APRIL 2016

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