As of 2021, only about 1 percent of the nation’s 480,000 school buses were electric. However, interest in electric school buses is gaining momentum. In part, this momentum is being fueled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Bus Program.
This federal grant program will provide $5 billion over the next five years (FY 2022-2026) to replace existing school buses with zero-emission and low-emission models. You can see the 2022 awards here – which include 319 applicants, totaling nearly $1 billion.
With this large funding source available to upgrade fleets, now may be the time to check something off your technology wish list to further modernize your vehicles.
In a recent STN survey of 500 school transportation professionals, respondents were asked what products or services they were interested in purchasing over the next 12 months. Here are some of the technology solutions that districts are looking to invest in.
Student Ridership Tracking
Eleven percent of respondents were interested in investing in student tracking or RFID technologies over the next year.
These systems help parents get their children to the bus stop safely and on time. The data provided by ridership tracking also allows districts to make more informed routing decisions, get insights into student attendance, and locate a student in the event of an emergency or incident.
And with fewer veteran drivers on the road, or drivers taking different routes as needed, ridership tracking technology takes the responsibility off the driver to ensure students are getting on the appropriate bus.
Stop-Arm Video Systems
Thirteen percent of respondents are interested in installing stop-arm video systems over the next year.
Across a 180-day school year, motorists commit more than 17 million stop-arm violations. These stop-arm video systems are helping to keep students safer both in and around the school bus. Verra Mobility found that 99% of drivers who were issued and paid a violation from a CrossingGuard-equipped school bus did not receive a second, a promising stat for the long-term benefits of this technology.
Ten percent of respondents were interested in investing in onboard WiFi over the next year.
During the pandemic, many districts turned to school bus WiFi to create access points throughout their communities to support distance learning. However, this technology is proving beneficial even with students back in the classroom.
Students on long daily routes, athletic and activity buses, and field trips can benefit from additional time to complete assignments or study for exams. Plus, district leaders have found that buses with filtered WiFi led to a decrease in behavioral incidents – creating a safer commute for everyone.
Kajeet® provides districts with a complete solution to outfit their fleets with onboard WiFi. The Kajeet SmartBus solution includes hardware, unlimited data on the 4G and 5G networks of your choice, installation services, and lifetime support.
With all Kajeet solutions, we ensure students stay safe and on-task with CIPA-compliant filters, provisioning, and access controls. Administrators will have access to the Sentinel portal to manage data allocations and web filters, track data usage, and run reports.