“[W]e all were facing the same issues, and it was interesting to see how different districts were

approaching opening back up with different scenarios.” - George Ramplin of the School District of Haverford Township in Pennsylvania, on communicating with vendors and peers via online video conferencing during COVID-19.

summit. Having our clients in one place so we could interact with them face-to-face was wonderful, but the online classes are efficient and very precise because we can constantly keep them up to date. Our clients really appreciate how easy it is to participate and how much more flexible participating in an online learning experi- ence is compared to travelling to a summit.” At the conclusion of past user conferences, Civitella and his staff would tell attendees, “See you next year.” They have since modified that sign off. “I’m constantly on the phone and in online meetings

with our clients, and now it’s see you tomorrow because we welcome all of the feedback so we can provide solu- tions that matter right now,” he added. While the opportunity to gain feedback from clients is

part of the company culture from the very beginning, the Transfinder employees are also engaged with meeting changing client needs during a time when routing may change abruptly. Transfinder released its newest routing solution, Routefinder PLUS last April, despite concerns over schools shutting down. “These new algorithms let users decide on a bus’ ca-

pacity even faster than our previous system. In one click, you can change the capacity,” Civitella explained. “There were early adapters despite shut-downs, and others who decided it wasn’t the time to learn a new system.” While companies and districts are adapting to com-

municating virtually, there are still issues stemming from various programs being unable to share informa- tion. For instance, Dallas Pieper, director of enrollment and transportation for the Freeport School District 145 in northwest Illinois, observed that her team has ex- perienced challenges in getting Zonar’s turn-by-turn directions and the Versatrans routing system to commu- nicate properly. If that can be fixed, it would be a huge plus for her drivers. “My biggest wish right now is that Zonar could com-

municate with that system. They provide great support, and we have always communicated by phone or email, so the pandemic hasn’t changed support,” Pieper said. “We’ve looked at Transfinder and it’s a great system. But, changing routing software is like getting a divorce and getting remarried. I’m not saying that it will never hap- pen, but it will have to be something so amazing that we have to switch.” Zonar has taken that feedback to heart, as Susan

22 School Transportation News • JANUARY 2021

Corscadden, the vice president of marketing, said the company has realized new opportunities to help their customers during 2020. She added that the company has ramped up customer support resources. On its online help pages, Zonar offers self-serve and learning man- agement resources that include custom training videos and many ways for customers to get in touch with Zonar, even though there is currently no physical trade show booth for them to visit. “Across the board, there are resources available in- cluding onsite visits from field reps for districts that are comfortable with that,” said Corscadden. “We found that when schools went dark, people lost connectivity with their peers, so we made it even easier for them to reach out to us. One bright side about holding virtual events is that so many more people can attend. Plus, we get so much more detail in our feedback. We know where we need to focus because it’s very easy to see the collective needs of many clients.” Typically, Zonar holds four regional user group meet-

ings during the year, which in 2020 merged into one online event. The event was so successful that the next one is to be held virtually next month. Zonar did such a thorough job keeping the pupil trans-

portation industry informed of changes in compliance during the spring of 2020 that it was named the Gold Winner for Heightening Awareness in Communications or PR Campaign of the Year, awarded by One Planet. “That page had a constant feed of information, which

many people relied on when COVID-19 was turning all the rules upside-down last spring,” said Corscadden. “At the same time, we were also holding a webinar every Monday in which 60 to 80 people joined us.” Zonar also had a robust response to COVID-19 with their products. Any customers of the Electronic Vehicle Inspection Reporting (EVIR) system could call and receive a free activation of a sanitization configuration on their pre- and post-trip section on their tablet. They could also activate a health survey which has drivers answer ques- tions regarding fevers, headaches, or other symptoms. “Zonar has always been all about safety, and a natural extension of our software was that it helps with contact tracing,” noted Corscadden. “There might not be a com- mon teacher or bus driver, and with our system, which has photos of the students, it is easy to see who was on what bus, especially in this time of flexible bus routes.” ●

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40