HomePartner UpdatesTales from the Field for Managing Field Trips and Charters

Tales from the Field for Managing Field Trips and Charters

BusHive software revolutionizes how school bus contractors manage field trips and charters, company officials note.

Bus service for field and activity trips can often be overlooked by school districts in the greater scheme of student transportation services, that is until costs spiral out of control. Wisconsin school bus contractor GO Riteway illustrates how busHive has helped the company rein in costs as well as alleviate administrative headaches for transportation staff and district customers alike so more attention can be paid to student safety.

The accuracy of trip quotes is a thorn in the side of many districts, and Judy M. Mastenbrook, assistant vice president and controller for GO Riteway Transportation Group, said busHive has greatly eased trip administration. It has also provided the necessary security to safeguard the wealth of information being passed back and forth between teachers, school administrators and transportation departments.

In its 60th year of business, GO Riteway operates over 900 school buses for three dozen school districts in the greater Milwaukee, Madison and La Crosse areas of Wisconsin.

Prior to partnering with busHive, Mastenbrook said GO Riteway, which operates over 900 school buses for three dozen school districts in the greater Milwaukee, Madison and La Crosse areas and is celebrating its 60th year in business, operated a charter trip management system that was antiquated and increasingly inefficient.

Dating back to 1989, the company implemented a self-defined system written by Mastenbrook in FoxPro that exported payroll and billing data to Microsoft Access. The systems ran independently from each of the company’s bus terminals and required a regional operations manager to physically call each location to obtain dispatch logs to start piecing together information on various trips.

Each rate was also built into the database which, with each passing year and an ever-increasing number of trips, became harder and harder to maintain.

“It was difficult to control the change in contract rates for charters from one school year to the next,” she adds. “With the new system rate structures for the same school districts can be built for multiple school years

That new system is the busHive software that GO Riteway transitioned to in 2015. It has vastly improved the way the contractor schedules, manages and bills its field and activity trips. Mastenbrook said staff now reap the benefits of expanded capabilities regarding the assignment of drivers and can access and utilize dispatch logs based on the needs of individual terminals.

The busHive software allows users to create rules that, for example, can prevent accounting staff from canceling a trip once it’s booked. “That’s a control that someone also isn’t giving away a trip for free,” she adds. “The controls are defined for different levels of staff.”

Operationally, GO Riteway management can easily view charter trips in multiple locations. Service providers can schedule multiple pick-up and drop-off locations to better utilize equipment and driver time while also being able to moving trips between terminals without the need to re-enter them into the system.

“The ability to share destinations between the terminals is an efficiency,” she adds. “The calculation of miles and time enhances the efficiency of quoting. It provides self-defined lists of supplemental charges. busHive has provided us with tool that make administration so easy.”

Mastenbrook says one employee “thanked me a million times because she can log on remotely from home at night or on the weekend. busHive has saved her so much time.”

“The data is available and can be extracted for analysis by accounting,” she continues. “It builds supplemental reports requested from various school districts the meet their needs.”

GO Riteway staff can also view data in whichever ways it prefers, in whole or in pieces, and can sort, save and export data into report formats preferred by individual school district customers. Some districts require an Excel spreadsheet with miles driven and check-in and check-out times of vehicles tied to the purchase order number.

Others want one invoice with sortable trip data for a given week, month or school year. For example, Mastenbrook shares, school district athletic directors can receive a breakdown of all the football trips taken during the fall and how much they cost when planning the schedule for the coming season.

“You can sort trips right in busHive,” says Ryan Paque, operations manager for GO Riteway. “We went from needing to do it in eight steps down to only needing two. It’s a big time saver.”

Another main benefit of busHive, Paque adds, is the highly visual nature of the software. Yet another is the ability to keep costs under control, especially those incurred by drivers. Previously, Mastenbrook recalls how a bus driver would need to sit with the bus at a track meet until the event was over and the team was ready to return home. But now, the terminal manager can use busHive to assign that driver and bus to operate another trip in the area, thus making more efficient use of the driver’s clock. And this has cut down in needless driver overtime expenditures.

“It’s a lot easier to see at a glance how many trips a driver has in a week to spread them out. We used to have to print out a log each day,” Paque adds.

busHive has been improving safety and efficiency for 20 years. The company aims to streamline workflows and record-keeping across the entire field trip & charter process—from the initial quote, to confirmations and contracts, generating driver itineraries, billing and payroll.

When school bus contractors receive inquiries for quotes, busHive calculates mileage and expected trip duration, then generates a charter price at the company’s current billing rates.

Once a customer books a charter, busHive automatically generates confirmation and contracts. The software customizes contracts’ unique policies, terms and conditions, specifically for each school bus company.

The system has a built-in, fully integrated dispatching and scheduling estimate, color coded by vehicle. With the click of a button, users can view a calendar and quickly see what equipment they have available each day. This prevents over-booking, and allows school bus companies to easily adjust rates for high-demand days.

Once they do assign a driver to a vehicle, the system displays what drivers and what vehicles are available on each day with color coordination. So, if a driver’s in “red,” that driver may already be driving a route or charter that day. Alternatively, they may be a part-time driver, they may have requested that day off, or they may go into overtime—there’s a variety of different customizable filters. It allows dispatch and management to efficiently monitor overtime hours, prevent drivers from violating hours-of-service regulations and to prevent reservation conflicts for drivers and vehicles.

busHive also offers tailored demonstrations to show how the system will improve operations.

Request a test drive today at: www.bushive.com/demo

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