HomePartner UpdatesGeorgia District Succeeding Today, Ready for Tomorrow With Telematics and On-Board Tablets

Georgia District Succeeding Today, Ready for Tomorrow With Telematics and On-Board Tablets

Bibb County School District (GA) transports more than 10,000 students and maintains a fleet of 200 buses.

Their fleet and ridership pose unique challenges — according to Transportation Software and Routing Manager Michael Cheek, the district operates 75 propane-fueled buses and transports “more than 600 special needs students, with almost a third of our bus fleet dedicated to special needs transportation.” The district uses telematic solutions and on-board tablets from Tyler Technologies to help them streamline their operations and meet the needs of the students they serve.

To learn more about Tyler Technologies’ Student Transportation and telematic solutions, register for their upcoming GPS and Tyler Drive webinar.

Simplifying Special Needs Transportation

With a large portion of their fleet and drivers serving special needs students, a high level of communication and flexibility is key. Varying schedules and pick-up/drop-off locations create complexities that are simplified by the district’s use of Tyler Drive on-board tablets. “We make special needs route changes daily, sometimes at the last minute,” said Cheek. “The bus driver could be on the bus ramp, the route supervisor will make a change, then radio and say, ‘Hey, refresh your tablet,’ and those changes are there on Tyler Drive immediately. They know exactly where to go.”

Tyler Drive is connected to Tyler’s Student Transportation software, providing drivers with turn-by-turn directions and student information details to help them keep routes efficient and riders safe. “Before Tyler Drive, we had to provide paper copies or talk the drivers to an address over the radio,” said Cheek. With on-screen or audio-only directions, drivers can focus on their riders’ needs and keep their eyes on the road.

Driving Toward On-Time Performance Goals

Every bus in Bibb’s fleet is equipped with Tyler’s Telematic GPS hardware which provides the district with Automatic Vehicle Location, or AVL. These devices provide tracking data the district uses to analyze metrics that can improve driver safety, engine idle time, and on-time performance. Striving toward a goal of 95% on-time performance, the district uses AVL to compare their planned versus actual route timing. Cheek said, “We use that information to see where we can be more efficient with our routes. It tells us which routes are late, and we can look at those in more detail to figure out why they may run a little behind.” Running three tiers of routes every school day, using this data to improve efficiency helps the district provide better, faster service to their students.

Telematics and Powerful Software Enhance Operations

Using data collected by telematic devices can help identify opportunities for increased efficiency. Tyler’s Telematic GPS combined with Tyler’s Student Transportation routing can empower transportation departments with the information they need to optimize routes and driving habits. These tools can help districts boost their confidence in the use of alternative fuel vehicles, meet performance goals, and improve service for students.

Shifting to a Low-Emission Fleet

In recent years, Bibb County School District has added 75 propane-fueled buses to their operation — a shift from an all-diesel fleet that has already reduced their fuel costs significantly. Since making this investment, they have also seen lower maintenance costs and reduced emissions.

However, using these low-emission propane vehicles has required some extra planning. The district schedules an average of 250 activity trips per month, some requiring long-distance travel across the state. When sending their propane buses on an extended field trip, Cheek said: “Anything over a two- or three-hour drive, we have to set up a refueling propane truck to come meet that bus.”

Similar infrastructure concerns come up as they look into using electric buses for long-distance trips: “I can imagine the challenges of electric buses on those longer trips because most of the recharging stations available are for normal-sized cars. You wouldn’t be able to recharge a bus with most of those,” said Cheek. This will matter soon, as Georgia school districts received nearly $60 million, originating from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to support the purchase of 156 electric buses in the state — and 15 of those will be used at Bibb County School District.

Using their Tyler software and Telematic GPS, the district can look at each diesel or propane vehicle and compare data on cost savings, fuel consumption, and more. Cheek said, “We want to use custom reports and get more statistics from those buses, so even during heavy use, we know we’ll have enough fuel to finish a route.”

Cheek and his team, led by Executive Director Anthony Jackson, have recently been recognized for their work with low-emission buses and more, winning a 2024 Excellence Award from Tyler Technologies for Operational Efficiency and a 10-Year Alternative Fuels Champion award at the Georgia Association for Pupil Transportation conference.

Live Opportunity to Learn More

When paired together, Tyler’s Telematic GPS and Tyler Drive provide a complete view of your onboard operations by combining student ridership, turn-by-turn directions, GPS/AVL, engine diagnostics, and more. To learn more about Tyler’s software and telematics solutions, register for their upcoming webinar.


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