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Thomas Built Buses use Detroit Virtual Technician to integrate in real-time engine fault codes with the professionals who are tapped to fix the issues.


Monitoring driver behavior before problems occur, and using sensing technology that transmits to a digital dashboard, are valuable dividends of that technology. Te data that is provide by a robust digital dashboard may help drive policy and policy change. Jim Lovelace is the director of transportation at Ball-Chatham School District in Illinois. His district began using Transfinder in 2011. Since then, the district has experienced much success with the technology. “Within six months of the rollout of the program, we were able to make sweeping policy changes within our district, to improve many safety aspects for our students,” reported Lovelace. “We could now track if students attended an after-school daycare, grandma’s house, went home with a neighbor student, etc. We were able to provide drivers with route sheets that included student pictures for identification, to prevent students from getting off at the wrong stops and to manage discipline. We have been able to create specialized reports to assist us in managing accident report- ing, kindergarten and pre-K attendance and many more.” Amy Rosa is the director of transportation and school safety


at Wa-Nee Community School Corporation in North Central Indiana. Like Chatham-Ball, Wa-Nee also uses Transfinder, and specifically Routefinder Pro, which allows improved school bus routing, scheduling and planning. Each morning, Rosa opens Routefinder Pro and processes new


42 School Transportation News • JANUARY 2019


data from the overnight import to use for dispatchers that day. Te system provides precise information—which is delivered to a web portal and mobile devices—about students, routes, stops and times, that helps parents, students, drivers and school staff. “Technology has definitely changed the way we operate on a daily basis,” said Rosa. “Overall, it has allowed us to operate on a more mobile platform. I am able to manage buses, schedules and discipline from my phone, which allows for more supervision when staff are away from the office.”


RELIABILITY AND MAINTENANCE In addition to improved operational management, digital dash-


boards are a valuable tool for virtual diagnostics and maintenance. Tomas Built Buses currently provides the Zonar V3 telematics control unit on all of the organization’s buses as factory-installed, standard equipment. Leslie Kilgore, vice president of engineering at Tomas Built


Buses, said telematics help answer a fleet’s needs for an easier way to track vehicles, streamline maintenance and increase route safety— while staying within a tight budget. “Not only can these systems allow fleets to boost safety and efficiencies by monitoring driver behavior, but technicians also can automate or even schedule routine maintenance,” she added. Tomas relies on Detroit Connect Virtual Technician to identify


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