Triad Community Unit School District #2 Works with Transfinder to Modernize Routing

Located about 20 minutes outside of St. Louis, Missouri, the Triad Community Unit School District, in Troy, Illinois, covers three local communities: Troy, Marine and St. Jacobs, providing transportation service to approximately 2,700 students within the seven school attendance centers.

Triad’s transportation department is responsible for the daily operation for student transportation to and from school; scheduling of all field, athletic and co-curriculum trips; and currently runs 30 routes, including three tier in the morning and two tier in the afternoon, resulting in well over a hundred runs to and from school on 30 buses. With nearly 3,000 students and a hundred routes to manage, the Triad transportation department was ready for an update.

“When I started here in 2019, they were still running a lot of older equipment, older buses,” said Kevin McGraw Jr, Transportation Director at Triad CUSD #2. “They had single camera eye systems, there were no GPS systems on the bus, and they had a very old chaotic routing system. We had no communication with parents at all. Everything was still done via pen and paper, sending letters out and relying on the schools to give us updated addresses and phone numbers.”

McGraw said that Transfinder’s Routefinder PLUS has been a fantastic routing software for Triad Community Unit School District #2.

With a relatively small staff including McGraw, an assistant and one part-time employee, the inundation of calls from parents and schools was taking up more time than the department could manage. The need for an updated system that could consolidate information and streamline the department was acutely evident to McGraw.

“We needed the computer to do as much as we could,” McGraw said. “That was what led us to Transfinder’s Routefinder PLUS and it has been a fantastic routing software for us. We were able to rebuild and optimize our routes to cut down on driving time, fuel waste and extra vehicle maintenance. We were able to consolidate our routes and really fill the buses to make it most efficient.”

Although Triad now has nearly 40 drivers, at the time the district, like many others, was suffering from severe staffing shortages and routing efficiency was of the utmost importance.

Selecting a New System

When making the transition to an updated system, it was important to McGraw that the company be well established, industry vetted, and that the software be compatible with Skyward, Triad’s current student data source. Having worked in the industry for over 15 years, McGraw turned to some of his fellow long-time transportation directors and managers for recommendations.

“I wanted to use a well-known company,” McGraw said. “Something that was established and that people are using and had been using for some time. As I started reaching out to other directors I know in the state, I kept hearing Transfinder, Transfinder, Transfinder.”

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.

As McGraw began doing his own research into the company, he found that Transfinder was an official partner of Skyward, one of his top requirements for a new system. 

“The selection wasn’t really cost driven,” McGraw said. “It was more about connecting our systems and getting communication to the parents and getting accurate information that we could rely on every night. But the fun thing is that it actually ended up saving us money too. It’s actually a cheaper program to run than what we were using, and it works tremendously better.”


After making the final decision that Transfinder was the right choice for Triad, McGraw and his team began the transition.

“We purposely wanted to do this over summer,” McGraw said. “We try not to make any huge moves or any huge changes unless we absolutely have to during the school year. By the time summer hit, we had already pre-established and signed our contracts with Transfinder.”

As soon as the Spring semester wrapped up, Triad was ready to make the change. Transfinder met with the district, working around the school’s summer schedules to get the system installed and staff members trained as quickly as possible. 

According to McGraw, the Transfinder team worked to make the changeover process as easy as possible, implementing the company’s streamlined training process. As a first step, a Client Project Manager conducts a kick-off meeting with the project sponsor to initiate the implementation process, discuss data required of the school to incorporate into the software, and establish an agreed-upon communication plan with project stakeholders.

Once client data has been converted and analyzed, the Client Project Manager organizes a project plan meeting with appropriate stakeholders to develop a work plan with agreed-upon timelines and milestones.

“We had a weekly call with our trainer, and he was amazing,” McGraw said. “He was always smiling, always happy. He helped us through the whole process, no matter how long it took or if we had any stupid questions or anything. He was fantastic.”

Meanwhile, the district’s IT department worked closely with a separate Transfinder department to bridge the connection between Triad’s student data source and the incoming Routefinder PLUS software. 

According to McGraw, the whole process wrapped up a month earlier than anticipated. In that time, Triad’s transportation department was able to consolidate old and new routes, building everything from scratch. Thanks to a successful merger between the Skyward student data source and Transfinder, all of Triad’s student information had made a seamless transition.

“We didn’t import anything over,” McGraw said. “We wanted everything to be new, so if there were any mistakes, we were catching that and not just rolling everything over. It’s so easy to build a route in that system that two people working normal business days were able to build well over a hundred routes in that system in about a month. We rolled the school year over like we would on any normal school year and it has been working perfectly ever since.”

Routefinder PLUS

Transfinder’s continuously evolving selection of software solutions and services includes Routefinder PLUS, an easy-to-use, full-featured, super-fast, browser-based transportation department solution. 

Routefinder PLUS uses artificial intelligence optimization (AIO) to automate the process of developing efficient, cost-friendly school bus routes for school districts. AIO uses artificial intelligence to automatically optimize school bus stops and routes with the most advanced technology available. Using smart School Bus Routing, AIO creates the shortest routes and fastest order of stops while minimizing drive time and mileage. 

Routefinder PLUS’s Smart Stop Assignment feature helps keep students safe during the loading and unloading process. With Smart Stop Assignment, you can prohibit students from crossing streets, designate right-side only pickup and drop off, and assign these designations to individual students or groups. If you are concerned about ensuring student safety, Routefinder PLUS’s Smart Stop Assignment is a must-have for your district.

“Prior to the software we didn’t even realize how out of date our maps were until we saw the new one,” McGraw said. “But that was just what we had always used, so we didn’t know any better. With Transfinder, we can build the maps without any manual input of student data. The students’ information comes right over and they are automatically routed to a bus stop in their neighborhood.”

Why It’s Working

“We went ahead and made the switch and it’s been flawless since the beginning,” McGraw said. “Everything works perfectly. We have updated addresses, updated phone numbers. Parents, they can log right onto their app, they can get the bus information within twenty-four hours of them moving into a house. It’s working out excellent.”

Prior to adopting Transfinder’s Routefinder PLUS, McGraw and his team were inundated with calls from parents and schools looking for route and student updates. 

“Honestly, our phone calls have dropped by 60 percent,” McGraw said. “The confusion has been cut out as well, because now the school can get right in there and they can see everything they need to. We were just the middleman between and now it’s all on the app, in the website. It’s easy for everybody to see and it’s very smooth.”

Another benefit for the Triad transportation department was the ability to track and manage its electric fleet’s milage and charging stations.

“We have six electric buses here and we’re looking to expand that fleet,” McGraw said. “Obviously, with every electric vehicle, everyone is worried about range and worried about being able to make it work. It was nice to be able to figure out what our max mileage was for the buses and chargers, and then use Transfinder to optimize the routes where we could take one or two bus stops off this route and give it to another in the area.”