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So, too, does routing data that is updated in real time


WRITTEN BY DEBBIE CURTIS


D 50 School Transportation News • OCTOBER 2018


ecades ago, it was normal for children to walk to the bus stop, or walk and bicycle to


school without parents worrying. Since May 25, 1979, generations of parents have questioned the wisdom of letting their child perform this simple act of independence. Tat was the day that 6-year-old Etan Patz was finally allowed to walk the two blocks to his school bus stop alone. Etan never made it to school.


Because the school never notified the boy’s parents of his absence, a search didn’t begin until that afternoon. Etan became the first child to have his photo on a milk carton, and his fate remains a mystery. Te result of his disappearance and of countless others have helped create hyper- vigilant parents. Today, it’s not unusual for a


citizen to call 911 when observing


a child walking down the sidewalk alone. Tere are far too many news reports that recount that students, especially at school startup, were released at the wrong bus stop, perhaps miles from their homes— even in broad daylight and in a good neighborhood. Te developments in student tracking technology that make downloadable apps available can now help give parents a sense of security. Districts can also benefit from installing a system that can reduce phone calls, prove that the bus was indeed at a certain stop at a certain time, and help plan more efficient routes. Parents and students, alike, benefit from knowing exactly when the bus will arrive, and drivers can avoid deviating from their schedules. Te challenge is ensuring that the


ever-changing route data is updated. Te saying “too many cooks spoil the broth,” may be true in many situations. But when it comes to keeping school bus routes accurate in real time, it takes a group effort among everyone—the software company, school district, contractor and parents. Parent feedback is also critical, as is implementing a mechanism to review it. Tis enables apps to evolve into even more effective tools to improve school bus safety and


PHOTO: TYLER TECHNOLOGIES


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