I haven’t met a single bus driver, route coordinator, or transportation director who isn’t 100 percent focused on service. However, the more accommodating we are for our parents and students, the less efficient our operation can become. Service and safety are paramount, yet with budget constraints and a nation-wide driver shortage, every school district in the country is asking transportation professionals to do more with less. So what do you do?
The answer, in part, can be K-12 routing software. Routing software can be a place where student assignments can be automated the most efficient way, while still accounting for their safety. In order to achieve that difficult balance, the right routing software should easily operate with at least these three principles:
- Student safety should be built in. I mean built on the map and in parameters that govern stop and route assignments. Not manually by routers. Your routing software should know that your four-lane highway cutting through town is unsafe for students to cross, every time, every run. It should know that SPED students need a curb-to-curb, rightside pickup, every time, every student. Manual decisions should be allowed, but they should be the exception, not the rule. If your routers spend all their time accounting for their local knowledge of safety hazards, then they’re not spending time figuring out better routing scenarios.
- What-if scenarios shouldn’t require a computer science degree. I’ve talked to so many transportation professionals who tell me that running a bell time study takes their entire summer. If bell times are built into the software, then you should be able to easily copy them into a separate scenario to see how changes might affect your operation. And it should take minutes, not months. Similarly, if you want to modify boundaries and switch up routes, you should be able to do it in the same database, and you shouldn’t need a working knowledge of SQL programming for it to work.
- Reporting should be powerful and customizable. Having data is great, but using data is a whole different mindset. When you can pull information into different reports, you can analyze where the gaps are, and, once you’ve built a what-if scenario, you can measure improvements with KPIs. The two key questions for software vendors are: “Show me your most useful canned reports that help me see where I can be more efficient” and “Show me how I can build a custom report myself, easily, in the program.”
If your current software operates with these principles, then you’re in a perfect position to find efficiencies this year. If it can’t, then you may benefit from this webinar where three panelists will discuss how they use software to build better routes, confront the driver shortage, and operate more productively. Please leave your comments and questions below and visit our website to learn more about Tyler’s solutions.