Transportation staff at Abilene Independent School District in Texas appreciate how the busHive field trip system is interactive, user-friendly and easily customizable.
Currently, 40 routes and over a hundred drivers facilitate the busing of about 800 of the district’s 2,500 eligible students to and from school each day. Misty Looper, the district’s field trip coordinator, relayed that students have been excited to get back to field trips and athletics. busHive is playing an essential role in facilitating that.
“It’s a lot more user-friendly.”
Looper noted that things have come a long way over her seven years in the department. She related that the district had been seeking a field trip system for over a year to replace their antiquated one. After conferring with other districts and conducting demos, busHive was selected in February. It was challenging to set up during a pandemic, she laughed – but busHive staff were nothing but accessible and accommodating.
Previously, requests had to be passed along a paper trail until they got to a staff member with access to the field trip system. Now, everything is online and there are fewer middlemen. Plus, the interface is easy for the older staff members to navigate, Looper noted.
Once a teacher or coach inputs a trip request, Looper gets a message and starts working on the necessary buses and drivers. Due to the shortage, drivers are assigned based on availability but may alternatively be assigned based on a coach’s special request.
One of Looper’s favorite features is the internal messaging system. busHive contains all trip information and transportation staff can message teachers and coaches with questions within the system without having to resort to email. Inquiries are matched with the trip in question so there is no confusion. Message notifications are shown upon login, much like direct messaging on social media platforms.
“This is so much easier to reference,” she related. “It has really saved a lot of time.”
Looper added that the district is looking forward to implementing the busHive Driver Portal and time clock. She sees it as another way to keep updating and bringing the district forward technologically.
“It’s going to be baby steps [but] I think it’s just going to get better,” she said.
“I’ve been very pleased with busHive.”
Asking busHive questions or making feature requests has been nothing but straightforward for Looper and her team.
This is no cookie-cutter operation. busHive was able to adjust the fields so teachers and coaches could make specific selections that are unique to Abilene ISD. This customization process went well, she reported.
“You can set up however many types of trips or drivers. You don’t have to try and put it in one of the six categories,” she said.
Plus, Looper adds clarification so district staff making trip requests are able to provide the exact information that transportation needs in order to assign the correct buses, e.g., the form asks if students with wheelchairs are coming on the trip so a lift-equipped bus can be assigned if needed. This predictably has resulted in fewer calls and emails to try to figure these details out.
The district-specific terminology makes it clear who is requesting the bus and for what activity, so there are fewer unknowns and operations can progress smoothly.
A happy result of such customization turned out to be a lift in morale. Looper requested feedback from district staff, who appreciate the personalization. Orchestra, dance, drill and flag teams now see their names on the list, making it more personable and less vague. A/B sports teams now have names to make it less confusing.
Things like being able to select “Cougarettes” versus a generic “high school dance team” turned out to not only boost morale, but also make things clearer for all staff involved in the field trip approval process.
The system offers Abilene ISD lots of hands-on control. When four schools underwent name changes, it was not complicated to update in busHive.
Having a cloud-based system was also essential to Looper, especially when the pandemic hit. Games were canceled, timing or scheduling changes were happening daily or even hourly – and all of it was updated in the busHive portal immediately so transportation could keep up and adjust in a timely manner as well.
“I don’t know how we would’ve done it with any other system,” Looper declared.
There’s a lot still to learn, she said, but she’s not dreading the process because busHive is there to assist.