Submitted by Dr. Kathy K. Burns
Nassau County School Superintendent
April 28, 2019 4:00 p.m.
Here comes the bus! On every corner in every city, children wait on the bus to arrive. School transportation is a vast logistic operation. The District has 88 bus drivers covering 160 bus routes that transport over 6,000 students. Bus drivers travel an average of 8,000 miles daily and make over 4,000 bus stops in a geographic region that is just over 650 square miles! While buses are essential to the Nassau County School District, they can cause unintentional distress for parents and staff wondering if their student(s) arrived to and from school safely.
For over two years, the District has been exploring opportunities to improve the school bus experience for our bus drivers and families. The Transportation Department has investigated and tested many programs to make buses safer and allow better communication among all stakeholders. The Transportation Department determined the Transfinder routing system coupled with the Synovia Solutions GPS system would do both.
In addition to bus routing capabilities, the Transfinder routing system is used by our Land Growth Management Team to outline geographic areas, identify the number of students in attendance zones and adjust zones to match school capacities, and better prepare for changes and growth. Transfinder also integrates with Synovia GPS systems on our buses.
The Synovia GPS system allows us to track and monitor many aspects of school bus performance and match that performance to the routes scheduled in Transfinder. It uses student data to support applications like “Here Comes the Bus” (HCTB) and student ridership.
HCTB, a real time bus tracking app that allows parents to see when the school bus will be at the stop. It sends you a text message on your phone when the bus is getting close to your stop. It also allows us to send messages directly to parents and students on a particular bus. This app is currently available to parents on a limited basis. Sign up is easy—just go to the Transportation page on the District website and click on Here Comes the Bus.
We are currently working on adding a feature to our buses to provide drivers with a ‘panic’ button that can dispatch emergency services to their exact GPS location, bus route information, turn-by-turn navigation, and stop-by-stop student information. Students will also use a bus ID card to scan when they get on and off the bus making sure students are on the right bus and get off at the right stop. This information will be available in the HCTB app for parents to see in real time when and where their child gets on and off the bus.
These upgrades to our district bus operations require time-consuming and labor-intensive efforts and collaboration between many departments, schools, and vendors. We are excited to see and share these safety and communication improvements with our staff and families. We work every day for the success and safety of our students, and the continuous improvement of our schools.