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cidents,” Johnson said. District 200 operates a hybrid school bus system, meaning it contracts out its regular education busing but owns and oper- ates a smaller fleet of nine buses used for student activity trips and special needs routes. Te district-owned buses are equipped


with the Verizon GPS solution. Oak Park River Forest favors GPS telematics to not only monitor the bus engine but also to gauge driver performance behind the wheel. In addition, the use of Rosco Dual Vision windshield cameras with vehicle tracking and monitoring allows the district to obtain data on range of incidents, from including when a driver hits the brakes. Together, the technologies contribute to the district’s safety offerings. Johnson reported that the telematics system immediately began paying dividends for the district’s maintenance operations. It reported data that uncovered the need to replace a $268 valve, which prevented a transmission failure that could have cost the district $4,000 to replace. Johnson added that the initial start- up cost and device installation was $80 per bus, plus adaptor cords for each bus at $30 each. Te monthly sub- scription for the Verizon service is $18 per month per vehicle, which Johnson explained ends up saving the district $8,000 to $10,000 in annual repairs. Another district relying on GPS and telematics is Galena Park Independent School District in Houston. Anthony Gager, director for fleet maintenance, said the district transports 4,500 students and has utilized GPS for eight years in 128 buses as well as 100 vans and other district vehicles. Te system determines vehicle location, vehicle speed and even each instance of the loading doors opening and closing. Te district uses the Edulog Location Mes- saging Unit manufactured by CalAmp, which was installed by district mainte- nance staff. Te district received money for the


project from a bond election and within a year, installation was complete. Te district as also able to upgrade analog video cameras to digital models. Each


school year, the district budgets for sys- tem maintenance, software licenses and other recurring GPS system expenses. Gager stated that the biggest


advantage of the system comes from providing better customer service to students and their parents as well as providing an even higher quality of safety along with the ability to track speeding buses.


On the East Coast, Tammy Hall


is director of transportation for Kent County in Rock Hall, Maryland. Tis smaller district located along the state’s Eastern Shore uses Zonar GPS in 26 routed buses serving pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students. Zonar installed the units in the contrac- tor-owned equipment. Grant money from the Maryland Association Board of Education was used for the project. Kent County uses GPS and Zonar


Ground Traffic Control software to record driver start and stop times along with the number of miles each driver tallies each day. Driver payroll is then automatically calculated based on indi- vidual data. But streamlining payroll is a bonus compared to the district’s pri- mary objectives of defining idle time for each bus, determining where and when the bus stops and increasing driver accountability. Te district has achieved financial savings through monitoring and reduction of idle time. “In monitoring driver miles, Kent


County School District has realized a 15 per cent annual savings because of actual driver accountability,” Hall said. “Over 2,300 miles were saved annually, on one bus alone due to this monitoring.” Meanwhile, Dysart Unified School


District in Surprise, Arizona uses Zonar GPS along with Versatrans Fleetvision management software from Tyler Technologies and have been upgraded several times. Transportation Director Steve Daigle said the district originally used GPS to monitor bus idle times and to verify and manage pre- and post-trip inspections with Zonar’s Electronic Vehicle Inspection Report, or EVIR. Te technology has been ex- panded to include Child Check-Mate,


42 School Transportation News • APRIL 2016 Arby Creach


Making Do


The history of School Bus GPS usage goes back to 2004 when it was implement- ed by Everyday Wireless, which is now known as Sy- novia. It was piloted


at Orange County Public Schools District


in Orlando, Florida, where


Arby Creach was then the operations man- ager. Creach, now transportation director of Brevard Public Schools in Viera, Florida, and president-elect of the Florida Associa- tion for Pupil Transportation, said ever since he has witnessed telematics change for the better over the years. But for Brevard County, like many districts, telematics is not yet an option because school administrators have yet to approve the upfront costs despite promises of big savings down the road. Relying upon his extensive experience with this technology, he said transportation departments must do what they can to implement new tech- nology, “Transportation directors want all the bells and whistles, but you know what, if you just have a good basic GPS system that gives you time, distance and a few other items, that’s really all you need to do some really good work and to really make some good, economically sound decisions in terms of being efficient. You don’t have to have student tracking, you don’t have to have Wi-Fi hotspots, you don’t have to have automated download of all your video recording when you roll into the compound. Those are really cool things, and it’s really cool to know that stuff is out there, but a good, sound, basic system is really what it’s all about because that’s your bread and butter. That’s the nuts and bolts of what you do every day, and that’s where your money is. If you can’t get anything else out there, just get that basic systems and go with it. And you can always build on it.”


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