Transfinder provided tips and practical applications for school bus routing software in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic during the STN EXPO Virtual.
“It’s not like you’ve never had to adapt to changing conditions before,” President and CEO Antonio Civitella said to the student transporters watching his Tuesday morning talk on navigating the uncertainties of 2021. “You know you have to be agile and able to change on a dime.”
He listed some thoughts to consider for 2021 using the acronym NAVIGATE.
Negotiate – Transfinder’s web-based Routefinder routing solution plus the Wayfinder driver navigation system provides an optimal way to negotiate the roads that school buses travel every day.
Artificial Intelligence Optimization – The algorithms that Routefinder Plus uses are complex, but an optimal operation requires transportation staff to supply the local knowledge to fine-tune their bus routes.
View – Districts need a solution that allows them to quickly see information on the students transported and view the necessary reports.
Innovate – School transportation has quickly evolved to better serve families during COVID-19, and more of that will be needed, Civitella stated.
GPS – How do transportation directors know that drivers are following the planned routes? How do parents know where their children are?
Attendance – This is something that’s more important now than ever before, with contact tracing now an essential part of any student transportation operation, noted Civitella.
Transfer – Can transportation staff quickly & easily share necessary information with substitute drivers, parents, school administration, and more?
“Data is powerful and transferring information is crucial,” Civitella said.
Evaluate – Any transportation operation must review its routes, stops and overall plans for ways to improve.
All of the issues he reviewed in the NAVIGATE acronym can be assisted by Transfinder’s connected suite of products, Civitella shared.
“Our job is to make a complex project as easy as possible,” he stated.
Attendees wondered if the software was a good choice for a smaller district. Director of Transportation Katrina Falk, who runs 18 bus routes, confirmed in the chat that Transfinder was a good fit as well as cost-effective for Shelby Eastern Schools in Indiana.
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“We have all the components from routing, to parent apps, to navigation, to driver apps,” declared Civitella in a Monday Product Showcase. “We are that all-in-one company.”
A new partnership between Transfinder and Zonar that was announced during the STN EXPO Virtual conference underscores the importance of integrated solutions.
Client Implementation Manager John Briggs reviewed Routefinder Plus, the new browser-based routing solution released last April. It allows transportation staff to plan using travel scenarios for added customization.
Stopfinder GeoAlerts allows parents to be notified when their child’s school bus enters the zone that they have pre-set. School districts can send out messages to appropriate families, such as when a bridge is out, affecting a particular region.
Additionally, Civitella confirmed that Transfinder will soon offer English, Spanish and French language options on all products.
“Communication is key. You can’t over-communicate these days,” he said.
The Wayfinder app allows school bus drivers to take attendance and receive turn-by-turn directions. Downloadable from the Apple App Store or Google play, it works on any device. Civitella noted that when local knowledge and district preferences are “baked into” the system, the benefit of Wayfinder kicks in when it optimally reroutes a school bus that goes off route or takes a wrong turn.