Treker. Founder and CEO Ty Tang has a background in banking and financial enterprises. His interest in school bus apps came about when, as a parent, he experienced New Jersey winters. “I am very blessed to have started successful companies. I could have put my son into private school and driven him. But I wanted him in public school and riding a school bus, to have the same experiences that I did growing up,” Tang explained. However, when Tang was “standing

out there in the cold and the dark, I realized there were many problems for parents and the school concerning the student’s safety. Te transportation office also had too many phone calls to answer when the weather was bad. Te bus drivers do an amazing job, but they have too many things to do at once.”

As a consequence, Tang gathered together a team to solve the problem. He said they “thought it would be great to have the peace of mind that your child got on the correct bus, that they arrived at school, to know when the bus was coming, and know your child got off at the right stop in

the afternoon.” Tang took a holistic approach to building the Treker app, especially since his team members were all parents of school-age children. Te team strived to make the app simple to use and easy to deploy—to aid administrators, transportation offices and bus drivers—while also putting more information into the hands of parents. For instance, if a child doesn’t need the bus one morning, parents have the ability to request there be no pick-up. Tis alert goes to the school and the bus driver’s tablet. Te route is then recalculated to reflect the new times for that morning. Tang explained that, “We employ a lot of artificial intelligence and incorporate more into our system than many other apps do. We use Google Traffic, but since Google Traffic is for cars, not school buses, we also combine that data with a third-party provider that is for big trucks. We also collaborate that with weather data, to be able to predict times on a snowy day,” Tang said. “We want the administrators to know who is on each bus, update

56 School Transportation News • OCTOBER 2018

data in real time, and make the bus driver’s job easier, by knowing exactly who is on board, how to navigate the route, and drive with fewer distractions.” A tablet provides the driver

with route information, and can be programmed to go black when not needed. Trekker is also system agnostic, and routes are updated in real time. Parents can set an alert to tell them how many minutes away the bus is. Tang added that, “For student tracking, children have a card, the SmartPassage, that is read passively. Tere is no need for the child to do anything, the card can be zip-tied in their backpack, and they are auto- matically checked on or off the bus,” Tang said. “We thought that with having the card in their backpack, it was less likely to be lost or forgotten.” Ten there is the SafeStop app, which processes parent feedback, such as student ID being ineligible, an incorrect bus being on the route, or incorrect route times, reported Patrick Gallagher, director of sales. “Since the parents communicate directly to our support team through

The Treker app was designed by company engineeers with parents of school-age children in mind.

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