How Transparent is Your School Transportation Provider?

Presented by HopSkipDrive

Transparency directly impacts the safety, efficiency, and overall confidence in the school transportation system. For districts and schools partnering with school transportation providers, ensuring the safety and timely arrival of students hinges on access to real-time, comprehensive information.

Schools and districts can be better supported by transportation providers that prioritize transparency, which enables trust-building with caregivers, enhances safety, and allows for swift issue resolution. Fortunately, with modern technology, we have access to tools that enable full transparency such as real-time ride tracking, GPS, and mobile telematics.

Let’s outline some of the ways important information and insights from school transportation providers can raise the bar on transparency — and safety — for the schools, districts, students, and families they serve.

Corey McMahon chief product officer at HopSkipDrive

Transparency through Real-Time Monitoring and Data Analysis

Partnering with transportation providers that utilize telematic solutions can significantly enhance school or district transportation operations. These advanced systems go beyond traditional methods by continuously monitoring and recording data during trips related to driving and vehicle performance.

Telematic solutions give a more complete picture of transportation safety by monitoring important factors like driving habits in real-time. Live tracking of things like speed, hard braking, and sharp turns drive continuous improvement in driving behavior. Real-time alerts ensure that potential risks are mitigated early, enhancing overall safety for students.

Data gathered through telematics technology can also be used to offer feedback directly to drivers. In addition, telematics solutions can identify signs of impairment — such as distraction or exhaustion — that standard drug and alcohol tests may not identify.

Transparency through Live Ride Tracking and Status Updates

Partnering with a transportation provider that uses advanced GPS technology allows parents and school officials to track rides in real-time. By working with a transportation provider that offers end-to-end visibility into rides, districts and schools can rely on an elevated level of service — and prompt intervention, when needed — to protect the safety and security of students.

Ride status updates and messages can also serve to keep all stakeholders informed and connected throughout the transportation process. Instant notifications via SMS or push notifications can alert parents and caregivers when a student is picked up or dropped off. This proactive approach to information sharing builds trust while also reducing the need for parents or caregivers to call the school for updates.

Transparency through Safety Reporting and Metrics

Transparency in safety reporting and metrics should be non-negotiable for school districts that partner with transportation providers. This transparency not only fosters accountability but it also ensures continuous improvement, building trust among all stakeholders involved.

Transportation providers committed to sharing their safety data gain invaluable insights into operational strengths and areas of improvement. This data-driven approach empowers providers to adapt and meet evolving industry best practices and emerging safety standards.

Transparency through Regulatory Compliance

Some student transportation solutions aren’t strictly regulated or licensed by the state, so it’s important for districts to check if a transportation provider is licensed or regulated — and if so, who they are regulated by and what the process was for them to be approved.

Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), for instance, are highly regulated by either public utilities or state transportation departments. States generally require stricter background checks for TNC drivers than for other for-hire vehicles, such as taxi cabs. TNCs are also required by state law to provide clear information to ride organizers regarding the drivers who are completing trips. Although TNC requirements vary from state-to-state, it’s unquestionably in the best interest of school districts to work with transportation providers that support — and are already meeting or exceeding — regulations requiring regular reporting of safety incidents directly to school districts.

In 2023, HopSkipDrive advocated in favor of regulations that were ultimately adopted in Colorado to provide regular reports of safety incidents directly to school districts for school TNCs. We are the only school transportation provider required to provide these reports in Colorado, but we’re firm believers that transparent safety reporting should be a requirement for any vehicle transporting a child.

Prioritizing transparency for safe school transportation

By prioritizing transparency as an essential element when working with transportation providers, school districts can greatly improve their transportation systems, laying the foundation for a safer and more resilient school transportation ecosystem.

Corey McMahon is chief product officer at HopSkipDrive. Learn more about how HopSkipDrive is setting a new standard for school transportation safety and transparency.

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