The student transportation industry looks so different today than it did even twenty years ago. It can sometimes be hard to remember how we ever worked without cameras, GPS, student information syncing, routing software, and other technology that was not widely used until recently. But even as our work changes and modernizes, some things stay the same — like figuring out the fastest, safest way to transport a random collection of students who stayed late for after-school activities.
We all know how we manage these kinds of trips:
- We assign the most experienced drivers who know the area well enough to plot a route in their heads as they learn which students will be riding with them today.
- Or we set a strictly planned route with limited stops to do our best to meet the needs of most of the riders.
The first option not only creates the possibility that the chosen route will be longer and less efficient than it could be, but it also depends on long-term employee knowledge — that can be a rare commodity during the bus driver shortage. The second method is efficient but may lead to some riders having longer-than-usual walks home from the closest stop, creating safety concerns depending on traffic, weather, and more.
The student transportation team at Tyler Technologies has given STN an exclusive preview of their new solution, which will address the issues that come from transporting unplanned riders. Scheduled for release this fall, the company is calling its breakthrough feature “Dynamic Student Routing.” It will be immediately available for their clients already utilizing the company’s Tyler Drive onboard tablet.
On-The-Fly Roster-Based Run Creation
The Tyler Drive tablet already provides drivers with turn-by-turn directions following the planned route created in Tyler’s Student Transportation software solutions. With Dynamic Student Routing, those directions can guide the driver along a route calculated on the spot based on which students are riding the bus.
As students board and scan at the Tyler Drive card reader, the driver can review available drop-off locations for each rider based on addresses assigned to the student or other administrative policies.
The technology designs these dynamic runs to be safe and efficient based on the strict guidelines transportation managers build into their Tyler routing solution. These guidelines can include right-side-only pick-ups and drop-offs, vehicle load capacity, and turn restrictions. Once all students are aboard, the driver can review the manifest and review, confirm, or edit the suggested route.
Once reviewed and approved, drivers will recognize the turn-by-turn direction experience as identical to how they follow their standard routes. At districts using one of Tyler’s parent communication apps (My Stop K-12 or My Ride K-12), parents can receive scan alerts when their student boards and disembarks from the bus.
“This is the perfect blend of technology support and human touch,” said Vice President and General Manager Ted Thien. “Where for the first time, districts can be sure that even new drivers are fully equipped to safely and efficiently follow a route that may change each day.”
Efficiency and Peace of Mind
The team at Tyler emphasized that with the Dynamic Student Routing technology, the peace of mind that parents and district leaders feel when students board their daily planned school bus route can now be fully extended to unplanned routes of all kinds.
While the feature was designed with after-school runs in mind, Senior Manager of Software Engineering Nathan Westfall said, “The use cases are endless. Districts can choose to use the feature for sporting events, early dismissals, or special needs routing.”
Dynamic Student Routing is scheduled for general availability to all Tyler Drive users by late November 2022.
To learn more about Dynamic Student Routing on Tyler Drive and other solutions from Tyler Technologies, visit tylertech.com/stn.