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HomePartner UpdatesGiving Directions: Wayfinder Empowers Drivers Beyond Turn-by-Turn Instructions

Giving Directions: Wayfinder Empowers Drivers Beyond Turn-by-Turn Instructions

Jared Richmond knew Transfinder’s driver app Wayfinder was powerful.

The director of transportation at the Carl Junction School District in Missouri said he’s handed out Wayfinder-imbedded tablets to new substitute drivers he is looking to recruit and admits, when he calls subs, the topic of tablets immediately comes up.

“That’s the first thing they say, ‘Do I get the tablet?’” Richmond said.

Mission accomplished. “We bought them solely – to start out – to help our subs,” he said.

The district recently switched from another routing product to Transfinder’s award-winning routing solution Routefinder PLUS. Those routes are displayed, via Wayfinder, on a tablet. Districts can either purchase tablets through Transfinder or use their existing tablets to run Wayfinder.

The value of Wayfinder was heightened when it played a key role in preventing a runaway from getting off at the wrong stop and remaining missing without detection.

Carl Junction is about 130 square miles over two counties, a tapestry of five cities and swaths of rural areas. Wayfinder has turned out to be a major help for drivers navigating the various terrains.

“It’s been amazing,” Richmond said of the Wayfinder app. His team put the work in to get the most out of the technology.

“We got together with the individual school buildings and uploaded all the kids’ pictures” so drivers can recognize the students who are supposed to get on and off the bus,” Richmond said.

That effort paid off, literally stopping a potential runaway in his tracks.

Richmond said a substitute driver had a student on his bus who was known in the district as a frequent runaway. He attempted to get off at another student’s stop.” They get to a stop and the kid says, ‘This is my stop,’” Richmond said, recounting the incident. “Well his picture and name were not on the tablet. And so it was radioed in, ‘Hey, I’ve got Johnny.’”

A team member radioed back: “We’re looking for him.”

Richmond said the runaway’s plans abruptly came to an end at that moment.

“Come to find out he was trying to run away with one of his friends,” Richmond said. “We were able to stop a kid from running away.”

Richmond punctuates the point: “As a sub driver you don’t know those kids. You have no idea.”

The district, like many nationally, are dealing with a driver shortage. Older drivers are retiring. On top of that, on any given day they can be down drivers due to illness. He said he could use five drivers immediately.

Wayfinder has helped spark interest from potential substitute drivers.

“We’re using it as a recruiting tool We’re having a drive the bus event tomorrow where anybody from the community who is 21 with a driver’s license can come in and drive on the parking lot so they’re not intimidated by it. We plan on showing this to two people and say, ‘This is what you’re going to get. You’re not going to be thrown to the wolves or just given a sheet of paper.’”

Working with the user-friendly and intuitive Routefinder PLUS has improved the overall operation.

“We never used (the previous routing product) for SPED (special education) routes because they changed so often and it was so hard to route” in the older system, Richmond said.

“Then we got [Routefinder PLUS] and after we got it up and running, we’re like, ‘That’s fine.’ Now we do all of our SPED routes in this and it’s all on computer and they’re in a central place instead of pen and pencil. The switch has been good for us.”

Why the switch?

The district was notified it would need to switch to a different version of the routing product it had. Richmond decided before making the switch to see what other products were out there.

Years ago, Richmond said the district investigated other routing alternatives.

“We had originally wanted Routefinder PLUS several years ago,” he said. “But we weren’t able to purchase because of the expense and the discount we were getting off the other side. So, when this rolled around it was the perfect opportunity to be done with that and go with you guys.”

Carl Junction has added Tripfinder, for field trips, Infofinder i, which provides an easy way to share bus route and bus stop information to parents and guardians, and Viewfinder, which gives unlimited users the ability to monitor the day-to-day operations of the transportation department and the ability for staff to answer parent questions about their student’s routes.

To learn more about Transfinder’s suite of solutions, call 800-373-3609, email getplus@transfinder.com or visit Transfinder.com/solutions.

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