The Nassau County School District (NCSD) (https://www.nassau.k12.fl.us/) is comprised of 16 fully accredited schools covering five geographic areas across Northeast Florida and serving nearly 12,000 students with over 50 percent utilizing student transportation services on a daily basis.
“We have close to 2,000 bus stops that we make every day, running typically 75 routes,” said NCSD Director of Transportation Brad Underhill. “When I came in to be the director about four or five years ago, they were using an old program that had not been regularly updated. One of the issues was that we were basically trying to manage an entire district without any real software support.”
According to Underhill, the district’s original programing was incredibly dated, utilizing data from students nearly a decade past. Without any updated profiles on student population, the district had limited awareness of which students were utilizing which routes.
“They were doing a lot by hand and it was difficult to keep track of what was going on,” Underhill said. “The kids that were in there were eight or nine years out of date.”
While the district continued to use the software’s mapping and plotting applications to generate bus routes, Underhill searched for an alternative system.
“Initially I looked into renewing our subscription to that program and then I saw what it cost,” Underhill said. “I did have our personnel do a training with that program, but it seemed very difficult to use, very confusing. At that point I started looking at some other software programs, and pretty much everything came back to Transfinder. Talking to different people, the same name just kept coming back: Transfinder, Transfinder, Transfinder.”
The district elected to move forward with Transfinder’s Routefinder solution, launching an implementation process. In the midst of an ongoing school year, with limited personnel and almost no experience with the software, NCSD opted to have Transfinder build its initial maps, routes, and attendance zones.
The district then began an extensive training process, working with Transfinder on a weekly basis for the better part of a year. NCSD personnel compiled lists of questions to be addressed at each training session, with Transfinder instructors then providing detailed and specific direction. Each session was recorded and given to the district for employee reference and review.
“Transfinder trained my team by first teaching us how to mirror the trainers and what they were doing; then going through and correcting the mistakes created from the old routing system,” Underhill said. “The Transfinder team used that process to train everybody. They were really good. When we would run into questions we could call up and immediately get help.”
Prior to Transfinder’s software installation, NCSD was manually mapping and creating new routes every school year, with no updated student population or attendance zones.
“Before it was just a list of bus stops with kids in the area utilizing that stop,” Underhill said. “Now we know specifically which kids are assigned to each stop. My routes are consistently updated. It is not a huge process with school rolling over. Transfinder rolls our stuff over for us to the next year. We can go in and fix some stuff, but we’re not creating everything from scratch every year.”