Transfinder shared how routing is crucial to any school transportation operation, and how its solutions, including the company’s soon-to-be-released Routefinder PLUS, can assist during an STN webinar.
The free recorded event held on Wednesday featured a recap by Solutions Architect Phil Levesque of the challenges that Transfinder’s customers said they face. It’s not uncommon in the modern technology-driven world to see parents taking to social media about missed stops, crowded school buses and long rides.
Routers struggle with long routes and missed students, while driver shortages mean supervisors or mechanics must take routes. “You have to be able to react,” he advised.
Efficient routing is at the center of these challenges. The routing system that is used “has to serve and protect, it has to inform and manage, and it has to analyze and save (money),” Levesque added.
“Routing does matter, and we believe routing is the center of your world,” said Transfinder President and CEO Antonio Civitella. “If someone tells you routing is ‘just another task,’ they don’t understand you or your stakeholders.” These, he explained, can include other transportation staff, parents, students, district administration, teachers and local taxpayers.
Civitella said that Transfinder boasts more than 2,000 clients throughout North America. It always strives to keep its solutions fresh and innovative, he notes, with at least one new major release per year. However, the key to really assisting districts is to “keep the product easy to use and make sure our solutions create safe routes.”
Routefinder PLUS is the newest addition to the Transfinder family that is currently beginning the beta-testing phase. It is browser-based, and works for both small and large districts.
The product helps build routes by recording routes as they are driven; they can then be analyzed and tweaked as needed for additional optimization. Levesque said the system allows transportation directors to view all necessary information and to monitor field operations, and then help to make improvements based on the data review. The management aspect also allows supervisors to train school bus drivers, reduce missed stops and make other internal adjustments.
Parents and students are your customers, too, Levesque reminded. Routefinder PLUS helps with that by making it easier to share information with the community, and integrating parent apps to track the bus via GPS.
Faculty and staff also have expectations, including students getting to school on time to complete their studies and extra-curricular activities. Administrators are looking to reduce the number of complaints and bad press. PLUS allows transportation management to access key information while away from their desks, and respond quickly in crisis situations.
The old way to communicate about school bus issues, Levesque said, is to call the transportation department. “The new way is to capture and store information in a browser-based platform, so faculty and staff can find the information themselves,” he explained. Even field trip requests can be made through the system.
Civitella added that Transfinder’s driver app, Wayfinder, is also available to not only capture routes, but to also provide turn-by-turn navigation, which especially helps with substitute drivers. It’s a free product that works with a district’s existing hardware.
In answering questions about costs, Civitella said that Routefinder PLUS is a free upgrade for clients using Routefinder Pro to create and manage school bus routes. Additional savings may be realized if it is determined that a district can shed unneeded user licenses.
Transfinder provides training opportunities via the Transfinder University, a 24/7/365 support team, and an Annual Client Summit in New York.