Steering the Road Ahead

Communication and GPS solutions for student transporters can help simplify and solve many issues


he job of a student transporter can often be challenging. But there are many solutions out in the market that can help make the work of transporting children to school much simpler. Examples of these include GPS and

communication systems. In today’s market, there are many different offerings available to meet the many needs and demands of the student transportation industry.

Kirk Wilkie, vice president at GoldStar transit, a Texas-based bus company was looking to upgrade his outdated communi- cation system and contacted pdvWireless, a provider of mobile workforce management solutions. Te company provided Motoro- la two-way radios that include messaging capabilities and a direct channel to dispatchers. “Now, every vehicle in our Houston-area fleet is equipped with a

Motorola two-way radio system, which makes it easy for dispatch- ers and drivers to safely communicate in real time with each other. Te clarity is outstanding, there are no dropped calls or interfer- ence, and the network has exceeded my expectations in terms of coverage,” Wilkie said.

AT&T Station Wagon Service, Inc. (SWS) is a family-owned bus com- pany based in Northern New Jersey. Te company was looking for the ability to track buses to alleviate parent concerns and to eliminate the unauthorized use of buses outside of work hours and chose the TeleNav Asset Tracker by AT&T. Tis solution allowed SWS to track buses through a password-protected website running on the AT&T Broadband network, where users could see the real-time location of a bus. Because the company does not have the room to park all of its 70 buses, some drivers were entrusted to take the buses home with them at the end of the day. While it worked out well for the most part, some drivers took advantage of this. “To get paid for an extra hour of work, a few of them might say they left home at 5:30 when they really didn’t leave until 6:30,” said Rob Reinhardt, SWS owner in an AT&T case study. Te TeleNav Asset Tracker notifies about unauthorized use of buses,

alerting the bus company if they are used evenings, weekends or if they travel in speeds over 60 mph. “We’re not trying to skimp every nickel and dime out of our employees—we give them what they deserve, but they also have to be fair to us,” Reinhardt said.

MOTOROLA Elmore County Public Schools in Alabama was looking for a way to track the bus fleet and ito mprove communications. Te answers were Motorola’s MOTOTRBO digital radios and two of the system’s applications: GPS tracking and WAVE 3000, which extended the reach of the radios. Prior to this system, the district used cell phones to communicate, which created a number of dif- ferent issues, such as poor reception and the fact that drivers had to pull over and stop the bus in order to make calls, which they did not always have time to do. Te district also felt the need to track buses for student safety and the benefit of substitute drivers. Te district tested the MOTOTRBO XPR 5550 mobile radios and the MOTOTRBO XPR 7550 portable radios. Superintendent Dr. Andre Harrison and Transportation Coordinator Ray Mullino were both impressed by the quality, battery life and coverage. For schools that did not have cellular or radio coverage, the district went with the WAVE 3000 option, which allowed school staff with smart- phones to connect with the MOTOTRBO radios through an app. Te MOTOTRBO XPR mobile radios came with GPS tracking, which updates bus location every two minutes.

24 School Transportation News • JUNE 2016

KENWOOD Cliff Shearouse, director of transportation at Henry County Schools in Georgia, wanted to improve and upgrade his operations’ communication system. With the previous system, communica- tion between drivers was a challenge. For example, communica- tions were easily interrupted if someone held down a radio button while someone else was speaking. Te district chose to upgrade to the KENWOOD NEXEDGE

trunking system. One of the things that Shearouse pointed to as standing out about this product was the fact that the product had the option of multiple communication channels. “We have our regular ed bus drivers and special ed bus drivers, those are two main channels,” he said. “We also have a third general channel, driver to driver if they need to talk. From there, we have an emergency channel that’s monitored all the time. We have a shop channel if drivers need any kind of mechanical help from our maintenance department,” he said, adding that anoth- er option is a supervisor channel, where supervisors can connect with drivers. ●

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