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SPECIAL REPORT


I’m looking at the data to see what has been the most cost efficient and cost effective, so that I have an educated, quantifiably defensible decision when I go to the board and say, ‘This is what I want to buy.’” One example of the value of gath- ering data is Cy-Fair’s tracking of bus idle time, which revealed a daily cost


of $600 to $800 across the district. Drivers were informed and coached to reduce that unnecessary expense. It’s that kind of detailed informa-


tion that created public support this past spring to approve the district’s $1.7 billion bond that included fund- ing for 480 new buses. “I’m a huge proponent of the


technology that’s on these buses. There’s a lot of exciting new tech- nology on the horizon,” Smith said. “Whatever we can do to keep our kids safe is first and foremost. But where it can also find ways to reduce costs is just icing on the cake.” Smith’s advice is to keep


track of your data. “My primary recommendation is [to] just look at the numbers, gather them and really be able to decipher if what you’re doing is costing you more than what you’re spending, or whether it’s costing more than what it would cost to buy new buses,” he said. “There are so many data points that directors can gather when it comes to the cost of ownership of their vehicle. If you don’t have [them], start now. By clocking in over a period of time, you’ll be able to show to your staff, administration and community what it means. If you’re going out for a bond package, it’ll show why you need what you’re asking for.” Just 278 miles north on Interstate


45, at Frisco Independent School District outside of Dallas, Director of Transportation Doug Becker touts a regular vehicle-replacement cycle that he said not only keeps the bus fleet current but also keeps costs down. He said he values the growing role that data-generating technology plays in determining vehicle ownership costs. “When we talk about efficiencies and trying to identify ways to reduce costs, a lot of the technologies that are out there will help you do that. It not only helps you with the operational cost, in my estimation, but it also helps in service,” Becker said, noting the safety benefits of monitoring the real-time locations of students and vehicles. Becker and his staff also dissect


Ask us about our Price Match Guarantee! 1-800-437-2072 22 School Transportation News • OCTOBER 2019


demographic data for one of the fastest-growing districts in the coun- try, to help forecast future operating needs and costs. “We’re looking to improve on that technology to help give us the information we need to make smart decisions, keep our focus on efficiency and keep our students safe,” he added. ●


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