Transfinder President and CEO Antonio Civitella observed that we all want peace of mind, especially in this day and age of COVID-19. He and his team members showed how Transfinder facilitates its real passion of solving problems for student transporters in an online workshop and a Product Showcase during the inaugural Bus Technology Summit on Monday.
Smarter School Bus Routing
Transfinder’s “secret sauce” is routing, noted John Briggs, the company’s client implementation manager. When COVID-19 hit, Routefinder PLUS was introduced as a follow-up to the previous offering, Routefinder PRO.
“We provide the tech, you provide your district information and local knowledge,” Briggs explained. PLUS allows districts to plan routes and create trips with student safety in mind, such as restricting routing on certain unsafe streets. Districts can also implement GPS from a different vendor, such as Zonar, Briggs stated.
He related that an Ohio client is using a hybrid schedule with students divided into two groups that attend class on alternating days. Routefinder PLUS has the correct routing for each group on each day.
Monday afternoon’s online Product Showcase also focused on Routefinder PLUS, which was launched in early April. Routing is now expected to be easier and more automated, Civitella stated. PLUS was created to help with that. It’s intuitive and it’s even faster since it is browser-based, he added.
Speaking of “secret sauce,” transportation staff can input customized parameters that are “baked into” the system, he laughed. Certain locations can even be allowed for a.m. routes and restricted for p.m. routes.
“This is where you make your system smart,” Civitella said.
Transfinder took years to perfectly develop this system, he stressed.
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PLUS takes into account district rules and preferences on door-to-door stops, right-hand stops, whether or not to allow street crossings, bell times, ridership limits, and more. These parameters can then be applied to multiple stops at a time, Civitella said.
He reminded listeners that this seamless system requires no application programming interface, or APIs.
More Bus Technology Solutions
Infofinder i is a public-facing tool that allows parents to see up-to-date routes and incorporates news bulletins and updates from the district.
In many parts of the country, field trips are still being provided, and that’s where Tripfinder comes in handy by providing a centralized portal for requesting, approving and assigning field trips. It can also be used for sporting events, for athletes as well as cheer or band groups.
Civitella commented that school bus tracking is common, but seamless parent communication is key—and that’s where Stopfinder shines. The parent app has a variety of new features, including alerts that parents can set up for when the bus is a predetermined distance away. Announcements can also be pushed out to select parent groups. Earlier this year Transfinder announced that Stopfinder is free to districts for the remainder of the calendar year.
“We had a bus running behind schedule the second week of school. We had a lot of positive comments from parents about the push notifications they received through Stopfinder regarding that delay,” shared Katrina Falk, director of transportation for Shelby Eastern Schools in Indiana.
Meanwhile, Viewfinder is an internal view-only system that allows district staff to track data and pull information.
Together, Transfinder’s systems are designed to help school districts become faster, safer and smarter in their school bus routing.