busHive helped Saint Paul Public Schools go from a tedious paper-based field trip system to an online setup that fosters efficiency and accuracy.
“It checked all the boxes I was looking for,” Transportation Director Tom Burr said.
Old vs. New
Before the southern Minnesota district implemented busHive’s industry leading field trip software a year ago, one employee was handling all field trips through a manual system using paper forms, faxes and emails. The catalyst for change was this field trip coordinator’s retirement. Ready for a web-based system, Burr took matters into his own hands and began researching different vendors, soon landing on busHive.
Not only has going to an online system made things easier for the district, it has also standardized the process. Prior to busHive’s implementation, almost every school used a different field trip request form, Burr explained.
Field Trip Coordinator Sean Johnson noted that busHive streamlined what was a much more manual process that was prone to many mistakes: transportation staff received requests via fax or email and then had to input trips into a database by hand.
The district has been back to in-person classes in some capacity since February and has started conducting field trips. Burr related that SPPS teachers and coaches now find busHive very easy to use. They can log in to request trips and track the approval status online without having to call the transportation department, a definite perk in Burr’s eyes.
For extra accountability, transportation staff can set blackout dates and last-minute trips are required to be phoned in.
busHive’s web-based capabilities are key, Burr stressed. The old system used a database that could only be accessed by specific staff. Now, Burr or his staff can log into busHive to access information and records, a feature that has improved convenience and oversight. He related an example in which two different buses were needlessly scheduled when the trip could have been completed by one bus.
“It’s just intuitive,” Burr said. He noted it was a welcome change from the previous system which he said drove him crazy.
It’s a Partnership
During setup, Burr’s staff provided pertinent information such as system users, account codes and trip locations, which busHive used to set up the district’s account. This was beneficial to do on such a large scale, Burr explained, since changes can now be made easily, such as adding users or changing budget codes.
There’s another area in which busHive’s partnership was key. SPPS utilizes six bus contractors to transport 90 percent of its 32,000 eligible student riders, among them national contractor First Student as well as regional and local companies. It’s a unique situation since other field trip software requires input of driver names when assigning trips.
“busHive was able to accommodate our needs,” Burr said in appreciation.
SPPS staff provides its contractors with lists of available trips and then collects the information. This is a paper-based process, but Burr said he is hopeful new busHive developments will allow online management of this aspect. The contractors’ bus drivers receive itineraries and record their time and mileage so transportation can verify the data when it gets the final bill.
Johnson stated that busHive’s system makes it easy to keep track of specific information on trips and assigned contractors. Trips can also be reviewed per school, contractor, or budget code.
Burr added that he’s looking forward to diving into the accounting features.
“We’re going to continue to learn and grow with busHive,” he stated.