- Blue Bird delivers largest electric school bus fleet in its history to Broward County Public Schools in Florida
- Boston Public Schools puts first 20 Blue Bird electric buses in operation
- Thomas Built Buses and Proterra reach major milestone for electric school buses
- First Student introduces new customized consulting service to further support transportation needs of school districts
- First Student acquires Dufresne Group
- Perimeter Fencing Keeps School Buses Secure By:
School bus safety is about child safety. That’s why buses are highly visible with flashing lights, and why they’re equipped with stop-sign arms and cross-view mirrors. But when children aren’t on board, what’s being done about school bus security? School buses are expensive and have valuable parts, making them targets for theft and vandalism. The top complaint we hear from districts is catalytic converter theft. Each incident means a bus is out of commission for days while new parts are ordered and installed, creating nightmares for student transportation and staff scheduling. Then there are the hidden costs like fence and glass repairs, increased insurance rates, and the wasted man-hours it takes to deal with the aftermath of a theft. Keeping buses secured is critical to keeping them safe, clean and in good operating condition. And that starts with securing the perimeter of the school bus lot—you can’t steal what you can’t get to. Stop crime before it happens with perimeter fencing. We offer powerful perimeter security solutions that are integrated across several layers of deterrence. For example, AMAROK’s flagship solution, The Electric Guard Dog™ fence, combines three powerful layers of defense in one: • PHYSICAL BARRIER, a 10-foot-tall electric fence with multilingual warning signs, installed just inches inside your existing chain-link perimeter. • SHOCKING DETERRENT, makes anyone who attempts a perimeter breach think twice with a memorable but safe jolt of electricity. • ALARM DETERRENT, any attempt to scale or touch the fence triggers a blaring alarm and ultra-bright LED lights. As if that’s not enough to send criminals running, we also have multiple camera and monitoring solutions to keep your district fleets safe from harm. Users are provided access to an online portal where a bank of data can be used and analyzed by the district. The best part about a perimeter security solution like this, other than the crime deterrence, is how worry-free and easy we’ve designed everything to be for our customers. Beginning with making the decision. With schools so often faced with trying to mitigate risk and exposure with very little budget, we are happy to compile a custom business case packet to determine your district’s ROI or threat level that you can present to your district or financier. We understand that transportation departments need to get buy-in from the district, so we want to give them enough ammunition to describe their level of threat. Once you’ve decided, AMAROK handles the fence installation, all on-going maintenance, and liability for the safety of our fence. All you do is arm and disarm the system—call us for the rest. It’s all part of AMAROK’s Security as a Service model, which allows districts to obtain a high level of security without the need for a large initial buy-in. Don’t let your bus lot become a crime statistic. A perimeter security system is a great way to start securing your fleet. You prioritize school bus safety, and we’ll prioritize school bus security. Liz Coffey is Director of Strategic Accounts at AMAROK Security. She engages daily with AMAROK’s top customers to identify solutions for their security challenges. Customer satisfaction is the highest priority for AMAROK, so she takes special care in developing strategies to maintain and build client relationships. She is relentless when it comes to protecting our customers’ property. Visit https://amarok.com/ for more information.
- How School Districts and Students View the Technology that Delivers Safety Outside the Bus By:
The marriage of AI-enabled, predictive technology and stop arm camera ticketing systems: delivering real-world safety to students despite growing driver distraction. The pandemic didn’t bring much in the way of good, with one exception being a dramatic drop in illegal school bus passing. With the pandemic now firmly in our rear view, so are those better-looking violation numbers. Illegal school bus passes have reached epidemic levels, according to Pat McManamon, President of NASDPTS.1 The proof that backs this statement up – the 10th NASDPTS survey on illegal passing, which indicates the nation would have experienced more than 41.8 million violations in both 2019 and 2022 inside a 180-day school year.2 The good news is the industry is starting to see very capable and innovative technologies to counter the increasing risk. Safe Fleet has developed two technologies that when paired together bring an unmatched level of safety to students outside the bus. These are: The Predictive Stop Arm™ (PSA). This game-changer uses radar and predictive analytics to scan 3 lanes/1,000 ft in both directions to determine if a vehicle will stop in time. If not, the PSA issues a spoken-word alert to the students directly, telling them to “stop, get back.” This gives students a precious 3-4 seconds to “step back” from risk. Stop Arm Cameras. This system captures HD video of illegal passbys as they occur, assisting law enforcement officers with violation ticketing and making drivers more accountable for their actions. Together, these systems help enhance school bus and student visibility, proactively engage students with their own safety, and make it easier to enforce the law. We talked to two Florida School Districts to get their impressions on this life-saving technology pairing. Here’s what they had to say. Flagler District Transportation Director Dr. Don Rowls, views his school district’s responsibility of protecting students under the umbrella of a pledge to students and community members alike. “We have a golden obligation to transport students safely. Implementing these technologies is going to help us improve their safety and make sure they have a valued experience.” The Flagler School District is a Safe Fleet (formerly Seon) customer of over 12 years. Citing great after-sale customer service, Rowls is happy with his choice of supplier and technology. He gains peace-of-mind forgoing a bolt-on-approach in favor of using two technologies that are designed to work together for the best student safety outside the bus, while tying into his existing hardware and reducing the overall learning curves. “I’m an advocate for technology,” says Rowls. “Moving forward with the school bus industry, I’m always looking ahead for technology that continues to enhance student safety. The majority of the world is reactive rather than proactive. Being reactive typically costs you. If we have the opportunity to mitigate risk or enhance safety – let’s take that leap. We won’t mitigate all the risk, but we will make the environment for our students safer, and in doing so, we give parents, drivers and students peace-of-mind.” Alfredo Escalera, Fleet Supervisor for the Seminole County Public Schools in Florida also touts customer service as a key reason behind their 15-year relationship with Safe Fleet. Like Flagler, Seminole had no motivating incident behind their decision to implement the PSA and Stop Arm Camera solutions. Both districts hear the stories and see the footage of the frequent near misses and the tragedy that unfolds with any student strike. Both districts actively seek out technologies to help reduce the risk of any such event and better protect their students. Alfredo adds, “We see the increasing violations – blatant distractions. So, you see this and think one day something is going to happen. But this technology, it will help that one kid who would have been hurt by someone trying to avoid the bus. The more technology we add to the bus, the better.” What about the kids? What do they think about their technically advanced school buses? “They’re pretty excited,’ says Escalera. The alert from the PSA, when issued, is loud and booming. The kids feel as though they are being protected by a Transformer®.” Kids are kids after all, but this is actually great news. When students connect with technology like this and identify with the fact it’s there to protect them like a Transformer, they are more likely to pay attention when the system notifies them risk is present. Escalera points out, “people are going to see these added safety features and parents are going to say, well, why didn’t we have this a long time ago?” It’s going to be a no-brainer at that point. The systems you could say would be life savers. It only makes sense to have these safety features on-board.” Contact Safe Fleet to learn more IMPORTANT NOTICE: No system can prevent all incidents. Inattentive drivers, weather, erratic student behavior, and other factors can inhibit detection and overall system performance. Drivers must always keep proper lookout. Lori Jetha is Vice President, Marketing,, for Safe Fleet. Visit www.safefleet.net for more information. 1https://www.nasdpts.org/resources/Documents/2022%20NASDPTS%20Illegal%20Passing%20Results%20Press%20Release%209-2022%20FINAL.pdf 2https://www.nasdpts.org/resources/Documents/2022%20Annual%202NASDPTS%20Illegal%20Passing%20Survey%20worksheet%20-%20FINAL.pdf
- Prioritizing Student Safety: Advancements in Alternative Student Transportation By:
Alternative student transportation providers help school districts ensure that every child gets access to the education they deserve. By using smaller-capacity vehicles, these transportation providers can accommodate the dynamic needs of students and serve children and youth on small routes, in hard-to-reach or remote areas, and those traveling between districts (just to name a few). The combination of advanced technology and a dedicated team is key to safer student journeys. In addition, integrating technology into alternative student transportation services enables transportation providers and school districts to keep a closer eye on students and give parents peace of mind. Enhancing Alternative Student Transportation with Technology Technology should enable visibility into each student’s journey and improve trip management. By leveraging GPS data from apps used by drivers, online portals used by school districts and mobile apps accessed by parents, schools and guardians are able to track each student’s journey in real-time. District staff and parents can view estimated time of arrivals (ETAs) for their students that are based on the driver’s location and current traffic conditions. As an additional safety measure, parents also have access to the driver’s details and vehicle information. Implement Strict Guidelines to Protect Every Student’s Well-Being It is important for alternative student transportation providers to conduct strict background checks on drivers to ensure that they are fit to safely serve your students. At the very least, they should be expected to adhere to the same background checks as your district bus drivers. While a zero-tolerance policy related to drug and alcohol use is a good first step, it’s not enough by itself. All drivers should also undergo mandatory drug and alcohol testing before providing services, when there is a report of reasonable suspicion, post-accident, and submit to random drug screening. Tech + Team Is Key. Safety Is Critical With the technology providing real-time student tracking for parents and district staff, and a local boots-on-the-ground team vetting drivers and vehicles, the commitment to safety is clear. These are things that should not be negotiable when determining which alternative student transportation provider you want to use to help supplement your buses. As you continue (or begin) to consider using vehicles other than a bus to fulfil some of your needs, be sure you include all of the requirements you expect of the drivers and vehicles transporting your kids. Price should not preclude safety, and finding the right partner is a priority. At a minimum, any vendor offering alternative student transportation services should meet those standards listed above. Learn More About Safe and Reliable Alternative School Transportation Services EverDriven is the nation’s leading provider of alternative school transportation services. We’ve partnered with over 500 school districts in 26 states to help the most vulnerable students in our communities get to school. Safety is our number one priority. We work hard to ensure safer student journeys to and from school by leveraging our propriety Smart Routing Technology. As part of our SafeRide Guidelines, EverSafe Drivers are required to successfully complete pre-service education and background checks before they work with students. To learn more about how we can help you provide safe, consistent, and fully compliant alternative student transportation, visit everdriven.com. Abi Studer is marketing manager for EverDriven. With a robust background in contract compliance and regulation subject matter expertise, Studer blends that experience into EverDrivcen’s marketing efforts. Her focus is to provide school districts across the country with actionable and relatable content to evolve their efforts with Special Needs students.
- Danville Community School Corporation Upgrades Technology, Transforms Maintenance Processes with Servicefinder Installation By:
Located in a small rural area with a population of 2,700 students, Danville Community School Corporation in Danville, Indiana, is responsible for transporting well over half of the student body to and from campus every day. With 35 buses and 18 routes covering 86 square miles, the district’s transportation department needed reliable routing and management software that could keep up with their expanding fleet. When Robert Streeter arrived at Danville Community School Corporation as transportation director four months ago, the district was already in the process of transitioning to a new fleet management system. “The district had purchased the Transfinder software about a year before I arrived,” Streeter said. “But the actual implementation had been on hold due to regular business interference. We have now brought on additional staff and are really able to focus on getting the system up and running for the coming fall semester.” Transfinder has developed routing, scheduling, and fleet maintenance solutions since 1988, and is built on industry-leading mapping and geographic information system (GIS) technology to deliver superior location intelligence and logistics management solutions. Transfinder’s Routefinder PLUS is a browser-based routing solution, with fast, safe, and smart route creation, allowing districts to control routes and maps to plot the safest trips with real-time information. “The Transfinder system was entirely new to me,” Streeter said. “But the more I got into Transfinder, the more I liked it. It was going to be a lot of work to get it set up, it is for any district, but the support they offered was amazing. I have found nobody that has the service that Transfinder has.” From Paper to Digital Importantly for Danville Community School Corporation, the transportation department is also working to implement Servicefinder – the browser-based fleet maintenance and asset management system that works in conjunction with Routefinder PLUS. Transfinder said that Servicefinder not only tracks and manages vehicles, assets, and equipment, but it also helps districts adhere to preventive maintenance schedules, monitor asset and equipment lifecycles, and analyze maintenance reports for better decision-making. “I am looking forward to integrating a browser-based maintenance program, because right now we are still using a paper system,” Streeter said. “It’s going to help a lot with work orders, maintenance, and recordkeeping in general. We’ve got a lot of integration work to do this summer, but I’m looking forward to it. We’re all tired of the paperwork.” Streeter said that, due to his own career background in maintenance, he quickly saw the value of Servicefinder’s recordkeeping capabilities. For example, he said, if OSHA ever needed to request records, then a literal paper trail would not suffice. The ability to instantly recall older maintenance records would be invaluable in such an event. System Support When Danville has questions about the system, Streeter said that Transfinder’s Community client portal provides instructional videos and webinars for his team, as well as a live-human chat function for more specific queries. If the live chat cannot provide the answer he needs, Streeter said the company is quick to provide time on the phone with a customer representative. “Their customer service is beyond any with which I’ve worked before,” he said. “They’re phenomenal. I use them a lot – maybe more than I should, but they’re very helpful.” Bringing the Technology Up to Speed Danville Community School Corporation boasts a stellar safety and maintenance record, as should be the case for a district of its size that is responsible for so many students. Rather than overhauling the district’s entire maintenance program, Streeter said the introduction of Servicefinder is more about ensuring that the district’s maintenance technology is keeping pace with its fantastic team of professionals. “It also is going to free up the mechanics,” he said. “When we can automate some processes, it will mean less time where our mechanics must sit down and write up paper reports. It will give them more time to do what they do best, which is maintaining our vehicles and keeping them running safely.” The district plans to have Routefinder PLUS and Servicefinder–as well as the Stopfinder, Viewfinder, and Wayfinder solutions—fully operational by August 2023.