West Fargo Public Schools’ transportation department has faced a number of monstrous routing hurdles. With a new elementary school opening every few years, they have to redistrict and reassign students to new routes. The district also dispersed their single kindergarten center to separate classes in the elementary schools. Preschoolers are added to routes as soon as they become eligible on their third birthday. And the department buses all of its own field trips, special education and sporting events.
West Fargo operates 29 regular education and 12 special education routes, and contracts out an additional 24 routes—bussing a total of 4,000 students. It’s enough to make your head spin.
Calendar-based Scheduling and Routing Software Solution
Transportation Director Brad Redmond has researched the available solutions and found the answer to his problem with TripSpark’s calendar-based routing and scheduling software for schools.
The routing and scheduling system is known as VEO Transportation. GPS trackers and RFID card readers are installed on the buses and integrate with VEO Now, TripSpark’s GPS/AVL system. Students scan on and off the bus, and their boarding and alighting times and location are logged. Local school administrators can access real-time bus location and student ridership information through School View.
Redmond has many reasons for appreciating the calendar-based routing system. There are calendars for the school term, for each individual school, and for every student.
Redmond points out the example of the district’s preschool students, who have a four-day week, instead of the five-day week the rest of the school operates under. Because each preschooler has their own calendar in VEO Transportation, administrators can set up a calendar for a specific student who goes to school Monday through Thursday, gets picked up at home, and is dropped off at daycare.
“That kind of flexibility is valuable for us because that’s the reality of transportation. We have students going to different locations on different days. And this system allows us to do that. I couldn’t find another system out there that does this.”
— Brad Redmond, Transportation Director, West Fargo Public Schools
Student Tracking and Security
Student security was another key consideration for West Fargo Public Schools. Thanks to student tracking, the volume of calls to the transportation department about missing students has decreased to almost nothing. Schools are able to look up students’ locations and answer parents’ questions directly, without transferring calls to the transportation department or needing to contact the bus driver.
Redmond is also able to answer after-hours calls by looking up a student’s location on his VEO smartphone app. With RFID tracking, administrators can access location or lightings instantly. Previously, they would have had to wade through the day’s video footage.
Incremental Savings and Cost Efficiencies
TripSpark’s software also helps Redmond and his team find incremental savings that are steadily adding up. “The big thing is that we are able to nail down our ridership, how many students are actually riding the bus,” he said. Redmond stated he has seen a slow down in the growth of their fleet size.
“It’s cost savings because we can optimize bus capacity and find those efficiencies,” he explained.
In addition, the GPS/AVL system allows the transportation department to see if bus drivers are idling for too long. Minimizing idling time helps maximize fuel savings and prevents plugging up the catalytic converters.
Flexible routing, student security and cost savings are just a few of the benefits of TripSpark’s VEO Transportation suite. To learn more about our automated scheduling and routing software, as well as Redmond’s experience, watch the full video here.