Remember the story of the Three Little Pigs? Piglet number one builds his house out of straw and the wolf is able to blow it right down. Piglet number two builds his house out of wood, certainly better than straw, but the wolf is also able to blow it down. Piglet number three takes the time to build his house out of bricks, making it strong enough to withstand the dangers posed by the wolf, and thereby providing safety and security for his less thoughtful brothers. Building a quality routing plan is a lot like the lessons we learn from this story of the Three Little Pigs.

Think of the steps we use to build a quality house. First off, we determine our budget, so that we can appropriately match our design, size and materials to the amount we can afford to spend. We then enter the planning phase, drawing up a blueprint of how, where and when the parts will go together to create our new home. We identify quality materials that will complement our plan and budget. We then find builders who are able to use the materials according to the plan and within the project’s budget. We eventually move in and enter the phase of maintenance and updates to keep our house in good condition. We might even entertain the thought of a remodel or addition someday to add capacity and value to the original plan for the house.

Now compare this process to how we build a routing plan.

First off, we determine our budget, so that we can appropriately match our transportation policy to it. This will determine who is eligible for district-provided transportation, how far they might have to walk to get to a bus stop, and how many and what size buses best match the amount our district and community is able to afford. We then enter the planning phase, identifying the components of our transportation plan such as policy and service delivery models. We identify quality ingredients that match our plan and budget, specifically what kinds of transportation management solutions will best help us to create and operate a quality program. We then hire and train staff who are able to use the tools provided to deliver a quality routing plan that matches our district’s goals. The new school year starts and we shift to maintaining our routing plan, correcting problems and improving our program. We might eventually entertain the thought of an addition such as a fleet maintenance program or telematic GPS to add capacity and value to our transportation program.

A well built house provides us with shelter, comfort and security, all necessities for our wellbeing. A well managed routing plan likewise provides our transportation program with safety, service and efficiency, all critical ingredients for our district.

Thinking of your routing plan in terms of a series of building blocks is a great way to build or transition your transportation program into the kind of operation that can withstand even the biggest wolves of this world.

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