SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — Transfinder Corp. is pleased to announce that Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) in Maryland has selected Transfinder’s powerful Routefinder solution to create routes and improve its transportation department logistics in order to reduce chronic late bus runs in the 2020-2021 school year.
“Our biggest problem is we are late every day,” said Dr. Rudolph Saunders, PGCPS director of transportation. “This is one of the highest priorities in our district. What are we going to do about our late buses?”
The reason for the tardiness is one many districts across the country are facing: a school bus driver shortage. At PGCPS, anywhere from 70 to 100 daily bus runs are lacking an assigned driver. That’s about 10 percent of the district’s total 1,000 daily runs, which covers sections just outside Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.
“We have a revolving door of people. On any given day we start off with 50 to 70 open runs at least,” Saunders said. “All those runs we have to quickly cover, which is why we needed software.”
Saunders said the district had been speaking with several vendors to overhaul its routes. PGCPS is one of the 25 largest school districts in the country, transporting 90,000 of its roughly 132,000 students daily to more than 200 schools, with children on buses for as long as two hours.
Saunders said the district left one routing software company and picked Transfinder for two reasons.
“Our feeling from Transfinder was the software did everything we wanted it to do,” Saunders said, “and your customer service helped us make the transition without having to shut down our operation.”
Transfinder President and CEO Antonio Civitella said he was honored to add PGCPS to the Transfinder family.
“We are working – and will continue to work – tirelessly to help solve Prince George’s transportation issues,” Civitella said. “Our team is working closely with the team at PGCPS to help them overcome their challenges and have a smooth opening in the fall. Prince George’s County Public Schools is a good example of a district that is still getting business done even in the midst of this crisis, planning for the fall.”
Prince George’s relationship with Transfinder began in the summer of 2019. PGCPS turned to Transfinder to conduct an analysis of routes and bell times (when classes begin for different grades or buildings).
“The team came in and did the analysis work. We were looking to change times, move stops, consolidate stops, institute hubs,” Saunders said of the initial work Transfinder did. “In a short time they made recommendations about those areas as well as our business practices. After seeing the outcome, we were convinced about partnering with Transfinder going forward.”
Saunders said following this analysis, the school selected Transfinder to implement its recommendations.
“Transfinder’s team and our routers are all working on everything from putting in stops and running simulations,” Saunders said. He said despite wanting to do everything at once, including consolidating stops and bell times, he yielded to Transfinder’s experts to implement these changes in phases.
Saunders said the district has been shut down since early March because of the coronavirus, but routers continue to work remotely from their homes.
“They took their laptops home and all their information with them so they could do what they needed to do in terms of training and online simulations with Transfinder,” Saunders said. “We have meetings on a daily basis.”
Saunders said the district’s routers are making the most of this time when there are no new registrations or transfers or new routes created “so they can give their undivided attention to the transition with Transfinder.”
“My guys have been able to be very productive. The key has been the accessibility of Transfinder staff,” he said. “This is new to us. I don’t want to go back and forth with the other company, but we haven’t had this level of access with customer support. We’ve had many times when school wasn’t open over the summer or working on the weekend and no one was available [at the previous vendor]. If we got stuck or the system crashed or we had a question, we had to wait until the next business day. The great thing with Transfinder is there’s no lost time. We get someone on and we’re able to work through it.”
Saunders said he’s had a change of heart in terms of his involvement in this transition to a new routing partner.
“This was in the beginning my baby,” Saunders said. “My team fought me tooth and nail and now they’ve come to me and thanked me and pushed me out of the way and said they can run with it! When they are excited, I feel comfortable. This is the most comfortable we have felt about an opening day of school in a while.”
Saunders said he also is excited about Transfinder’s capabilities going forward beyond just routing. He said in the past, when the district would discuss future strategies such as building a school, he would be asked how it would impact the district and specifically transportation.
“We’ve never been able to give anything but our gut feeling. Now we’ll be able to quantify the blow back,” he said. Saunders said one example could be changing bell times, which impacts the community but also could result in buses being on time most of the time. With Transfinder analysis, Saunders feels confident about just how communities will be affected.
“To have the data to support the decisions gives me a lot more credibility,” he said. “To show and quantify makes decisions easier.”
Founded in 1988 and headquartered in Schenectady, New York, Transfinder is a national leader in intelligent transportation systems, providing transportation management systems and services to municipalities, school districts and adult care facilities. Transfinder, an Inc. magazine “fastest-growing company” for 11 consecutive years, has offices in Austin, Texas, and Shanghai, China. The software company, named a Best Place to Work and Top Workplace, develops and supports routing and scheduling solutions for optimal transportation logistics. For more information, visit www.transfinder.com.