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Rice’s own checklist includes asking potential con-


SPECTRA 


SPECTRA 


tractors some key questions: Are the drivers vetted and background checked? Is the transportation flexible? Are rides monitored by staff? What happens when drivers are late? Do you have a live, U.S.-based support team to proactively address issues? How quickly can you set-up rides when a student need arises? Do driv- ers have caregiving experience? What are your safety policies? What are your safety statistics?


Offering Van Transportation as a Key Option In addition to experienced specialized service pro-


A Pawar Transportation Company A Pawar Transportation Company


Transportation for Special Needs SINCE 1990


Bus Alternative


One-on-one for difficult to transport children


Using sedans and minivans Tested and insured


More than 30 years in business Contact Us


To book our services or learn more, please call 925-938-6161


Email


info@spectradriveapp.com Visit our website


spectradriveapp.com See Us At TSD Booth 701 52 School Transportation News • MARCH 2020


viders and new companies developing flexible options, other more-established school bus contractors like First Student are expanding specialized options within their existing service areas. While First Student has been using vans for many years on a case-by-case basis, it expanded its fleet last year to regularly offer van transportation. “We found out through a lot of research and from


customer feedback, that in a lot of cases, districts that historically have [provided] their own special needs transportation have found that they were typically [using] nonconforming vehicles. In other words, not a yellow bus,” said Matt Brodbeck, senior director for new service development at First Student. Part of First Student’s research included collaborating


with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to design a service that is ideal for specific needs. “In fact, what we found is that students who have special needs really do need spe- cial service, so we launched the van service,” he reported. Unlike many other alternate transportation provid-


ers, First Student employs all of its drivers and owns all of the vehicles. Aside from not needing a commercial driver’s license, First Student’s van drivers undergo the same training as its bus drivers. Additionally, First Student offers a holistic approach to transportation, while other providers excel in pro- viding solutions for small groups of students. First Student routes its dedicated van service along-


side its yellow buses. That way, the vans are integrated with the school district’s broader transportation plan. “Having consistency and that relationship with the


driver is a positive thing. So we want to make sure we maintain that. We really see ourselves as part of that continuation of care for that child,” Brodbeck explained. For instance, flexibility versus consistency, trained


employees versus vetted contractors, total costs, and how this one puzzle piece will fit into the district’s overall big picture plan. “We have a lot of students who benefit more from being transported individually or in a smaller group setting and they arrive to school much happier,” Spec- tra Drive’s Pawar-LaRosa concluded. “Some children just need the extra one-on-one attention.” ●


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