School Transportation News. “You have kids that have to be at school at a certain time, picked up at a certain time and a safe route to get them there and back. The thing that might change is the environment that you put the kids in, for instance barriers or disinfecting. It’s a new element into our industry that has yet to be determined—that will go away with a confidence in a vaccine.” He has written extensively on the concept up “uptime” and how technology plays a role in better streamlining operations. However, the fix is not as simple as purchas- ing new technology, as attendees at the Bus Technology Summit hosted by School Transportation News in September learned. Instead, student transporters must ensure the new purchases integrate well with existing technology and that employees are trained to use it.

Technology Pudlewski recalled that transportation operations used

to record data manually with a paper and a pen, many operations still rely on this method. But now, vehicle system recording technology can play a role to sup- port operations data analysis. It can be used to ensure systems and human resources are at peak efficiency, helping districts measure what “peak efficiency” means to them. “Everyone strives to be operating their program with a

view toward 100 percent uptime, to do the best they can to get all functions at peak efficiency,” Pudlewski ex- plained. “But breakdowns occur, and accidents happen. [School districts and transportation companies] are mea- sured in how they recover from that and prevent them from happening in the future.” For instance, Salt Lake City School District in Utah uses a combination of GPS reporting and driver data to measure its transportation uptime. Fleet Manager Ken Martinez said he defines uptime in his operation as ac- tive driving minutes, whether it be completing a trip to a school with or without passengers. He shared that the district tracks all of its routes with GPS to make sure the driven routes match those built into the routing system. In addition to Transfinder routing software and GPS, Salt Lake City is monitoring the driving environment via camera systems installed throughout its fleet of 101 school buses. “We’ve been able to more accurately track route com- pliance and give schools to the second of when drivers arrived at stops,” Martinez shared. “We look for a number of things [when introducing technology], including cost, interface ease of use, and reporting capabilities.” The district also prioritizes fleet commonality, which allows Martinez and his four mechanics in the bus garage

to more efficiently and safely transition from one bus to another, in the case of a mechanical or sanitary issue. Meanwhile, the Hawaii Department of Education

(HIDOE) also uses GPS and Transfinder routing software to better track students and ensure efficient routes. But it didn’t always. James Kauhi, who retired last month as the state

director of student transportation services, told School Transportation News his department purchased Trans- finder years ago, but it stayed on the shelf for five years because the HIDOE didn’t have the technicians to deploy the software and understand its full capabilities. The launch of HIDOE’s “Get on Board” initiative in 2013, which was developed following a scathing state audit report, hired TransPar Group of Companies as a consultant to help the department launch its already purchased technology. “That’s when our eyes opened to the possibilities of not only knowing where children are but how-to best route them to school in the most efficient way,” Kauhi recalled. The HIDOE is both the local and state education-

al authority, serving as one educational system. It also outsources all of its pupil transportation services to contractors. Kauhi explained that the HIDOE used to contract out around 720 vehicles to transport students to school, some buses carrying 60 passengers and others only around 12. However, the implementation and use of routing software cut the needed vehicles down to 660, which translates to a cost reduction of almost $13 million annually.

Policies & Procedures Pudlewski strongly advocates for policies and pro-

cedures. He states that it’s in the best interest of school districts and bus companies to have formal documented policies and procedures that are reviewed periodically to ensure effective operations. He recommended that the policies answer the “what” and “how” questions for staff within an organization. “Maintenance policies and procedures are the strate-

gic link between the school district or company’s vision, goals, and its day-to-day operations,” Pudlewski stated. The HIDOE learned this firsthand. Utilizing technolo-

gy is only a quarter of the “Get on Board” program. Other goals of the program are to maintain competition in the bid market, thereby driving down contractor costs, increase contractor performance through the use of data collection and analysis and create an efficient organiza- tion that is transparent in all of its business practices. When looking to be a transparent organization, Kauhi said his department was historically reactive instead of proactive. Therefore, the HIDOE deployed a perfor- 29

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