SAN ANTONIO — Medicaid reimbursements for school bus riders with special needs was a popular topic here during The Zone 2014, Zonar's second annual user conference, especially as the company announced ZPass 2.0, its next-generation student ridership tracking hardware and software.
At least three different sessions on Wednesday shared with attendees how technology can help school districts claim federal money for IDEA transportation services. Bill Brinton, general manager and co-founder of Zonar, said the new ZPass is currently being beta tested for a fall launch.
During one of the sessions, Matt Flaminio, president of Medicaid billing firm Go Solutions Group, said the primary demand from districts is getting ahold of the ridership data necessary for submitting the reimbursement forms. Brinton followed by telling attendees that ZPass 2.0 was released this week for testing, with a scheduled launch date to coincide with the coming school year. The student tracking program includes performance improvements to more easily allow districts to capture the necessary data to submit Medicaid reimbursement claims. ZPass 2.0 also granularly restricts user access to partial rider lists and improves rider as well as RFID card management, the latter being the primary challenge currently for end users, according to Brinton.
Using the existing ZPass solution, Brinton said Aurora Public Schools near Denver has received more than $400,000 annually, while smaller fleets, like in Freeport, Ill., can receive back more than $50,000 annually.
"The money is out there," he concluded.
Separate from ZPass, Brinton also noted Zonar is launching a new product at the end of May to provide parents an IOS and Android app that predicts arrival time of the school bus. ZTA will show a specific route on a map accessible on smartphones or tablets. The new solution is expected to be fully functional this fall.
Brinton and Ken Hedgecock, vice president of sales, marketing and service for Thomas Built Buses, also provided more information on a connected telematics partnership that was announced last week. By Oct. 1, all 2016 model-year Saf-T-Liner C2 vehicles will roll off the production line with a standard offering of Zonar's V3 telematics and GPS solution specifically hardwired through the buses' multiplex system. Hedgecock said the V3 will eventually be hardwired into other Thomas school bus brands as well.
Meanwhile, Jack Van Steenburg, the chief safety officer and assistant administrator at FMCSA, opened the day during a breakfast general session by telling Zonar user conference attendees that an NPRM is being developed on speed limiters for commercial motor vehicles.
While school buses would likely be exempt, Van Steenburg explained that FMCSA is working with NHTSA to develop the rule. The speed limiters would set a maximum operating speed target the 20 percent of fatal crashes involving CMVs that are speed related. In 2012, he said 4,138 people were killed in all crashes with CMVs.
The Zone concluded Thursday.