Wilson School District Tracks Service with Transfinder

Wilson School District, located in Berks County of northeastern Pennsylvania, operates approximately 75 runs per day with a mix of 72 passenger vehicles, vans, mini-buses, and a mid-size CDL vehicle. The transportation department services between 3,700 and 4,200 students (depending on the sport season) between a high school, two middle schools, and five elementary schools.

With a board, superintendent, and administration that wholeheartedly supports transportation, the district’s transportation departmentrequires a robust technology base to accommodate its many “moving parts.” As such, the department has partnered with Transfinder for more than a decade to ensure routing, service, maintenanceand information optimization.

Randy S. Williams, Sr., M.Ed, PCSBA, PCSTP, director of transportation for Wilson School District, said that the district had been a longtime user of the Routefinder routing solution before becoming one of the early adopters of the upgraded Routefinder PLUS—an easy-to-use, full-featured, super-fast, browser-based transportation department solution—in 2020.

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.

The upgrade to Routefinder PLUS lead the transportation department to begin adding other solutions to integrate with its routing, first replacing its DOS-based field trip software with Tripfinder. Tripfinder, Williams said, helps to manage field trip requests, approvals, and resource allocations. It provides Wilson personnel secure access to data via a browser or mobile device, enabling them to submit requests, identify students for trips, and track approvals.

Keeping Vehicles Safe and on the Road

The district also upgraded its Servicefinder maintenance optimization software, followed by the additions of Stopfinder (a parent-facing app) and Viewfinder (providing a “big picture” of the district’s transportation operation), and a recently completed pilot project of Wayfinder (a system which manages and completes forms such as discipline or pre/post inspection, which the district is still evaluating).

“Safety is the most important thing in transportation, and keeping vehicles on the road is part of the safety process,” Williams said. “Servicefinder allows us to identify and reduce excess inventory, but also to proactively predict when a bus will fail mid-route and prevent such a failure. It gives me a great bird’s eye view, but also prevents us from having catastrophic failures.”

“We have been heavily using Transfinder products for quite a few years,” Williams continued. “The last four years have been very extensive and provided a big benefit to us, whether it’s through routing, efficiencies, parental communications, parental sharing of student stop information, busing information, vehicle fleet information as far as services and parts inventory which we can gather out of Servicefinder as well, to help the operation.”

Onboarding and Implementation

With so many software rollouts over the past four years, it has been imperative for Wilson to work closely with Transfinder on training and implementation.

“Initially, when we implement a new program, we have weekly webinar calls—sometimes multiple times a week—and we learn the product through the first several calls and they’re webinars. After the first couple of calls, we start to use our data and doing the things that we’re learning with the trainer.”

“The beautiful thing about Transfinder is they’re very responsive, whether it’s Routefinder PLUS or any of the other solution, and they are only an email or a phone call away,” Williams said. “Sometimes you can get them on the phone immediately, but if you leave them a voicemail, they will return your call within 24 hours. If you send them an email, they will respond. If you let them know it’s urgent, then their response is quicker. Their tech support is very good at getting back to us normally within the same day.”

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