At the start of the school year, you’ll find Daniel Taylor at one of the schools with his iPad in hand and logged into Routefinder PLUS, fielding questions from students.
“They forget what bus they’re supposed to be riding so I’ll be out there with the iPad and just type their name in and 10 seconds later I can tell them what bus and what time they need to be out there in the morning,” said Taylor, transportation director at Columbia County School District in Florida. “It has definitely helped.”
Last year, the district decided to switch from its existing routing software, Transfinder’s Routefinder Pro, to Transfinder’s latest solution, the browser-based Routefinder PLUS, a decision Taylor is very glad the district made.
“It worked very well,” Taylor said, noting that while his team “loved Pro,” they found PLUS to be even more user friendly.
“It definitely has made a great impact on our district and our parents,” he said.
The transition from Pro to PLUS was so seamless that even though Taylor, a Master Sergeant with the Air Force Reserves, was deployed just before school started, his team was able to move right in and use PLUS to map routes and even consolidate routes as a result of some 1,200 students opting not to take the bus. Typically, 4,300 students take the bus, however, last year 3,100 students rode the bus.
“It was very easy with PLUS,” Taylor said. He reported that one router consolidated routes within a half a day.
“In a couple hours he had routes split up or consolidated and new route sheets handed to the drivers with the names of each kid at each stop. That’s a big plus too. I know the drivers loved it,” Taylor explained.
Being a browser-based solution was extremely helpful during the pandemic as his team rotated shifts, with some staff members working on campus while others worked from home.
I would highly recommend it [PLUS] to anyone. It will make the operation a lot easier once you know the program and support team at Transfinder is amazing.
– Daniel Taylor, Transportation Director, Columbia County School District (Fla.)
Columbia County School District is a big proponent of using technology in the transportation department to find efficiencies and create safe routes and bus stops.
The district has a suite of Transfinder solutions – including Viewfinder to keep constant tabs on the transportation operation, Servicefinder to handle inventory, Tripfinder for field trips and Infofinder i, which allows parents to easily see online their children’s bus route information.
“We love Infofinder i,” Taylor said. “We were fielding anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 calls the week before school started. It has saved a lot of time and man hours answering phone calls.”
The district is looking at Stopfinder, the parent app which includes two-way communications and GeoAlerts, which allows parents to track their child’s bus in real-time.
“I can see Stopfinder helping us a lot,” Taylor said. “In the afternoon, if a child’s bus is 15 minutes late, parents want to know.”
Taylor said the Transfinder technology has helped make sure transportation gets a seat at the table with decision makers. For example, as the district looks at redistricting as it plans to build a new elementary school to replace two older schools, Taylor told district leaders that he could determine the impact as well as suggest solutions “in half a day’s work.”
“They were actually surprised,” Taylor laughed, recalling the exchange. “They thought it was just routing software.”
He enlightened them: “No, you’d be amazed what we can do. Always check with transportation. We can probably solve the problem.”