As the pace of the world seems to increase every day, we have been hearing more discussions about the need for effective real-time communication, especially as it pertains to our children’s safety. We recently heard from Lance Johnson, assistant director of transportation for Marietta City Schools about how improving communication among the stakeholders in his district —parents, students, drivers, and transportation office staff— has made a big impact.
Lance presented in a live online Q&A session about his experience improving communication through technology. Watch the recording here, and read on to hear some of his story.
A lapse in communication initially led the district to begin researching routing software when a student with special needs was let off a bus by a driver who did not have the information to know to stop them. “Earlier in the school year, we had a student who was let off the bus without supervision. Though the student was the age which we allow students off the bus without supervision, this story did indeed make the news,” Lance explained.
He and his team knew that they had to take meaningful steps to improve communication and preserve trust in their department. “Our solution was providing an app for our parents and students to be able to track their school bus. We visited with several different vendors, seeing which vendor would provide us the best product for our parents and students. Once we picked Traversa and it was approved by our school board, we began the implementation phase. We had several meetings with key individuals at our central office location. We spent our summer and part of the fall school semester getting the app ready. We tested a small group of students and parents to ensure the app delivered as advertised,” Lance said.
Once Lance and his team were satisfied that Ride 360 was fully up and running, it was time to roll the app out to the entire district. “The launch was a success. We are now able to give our parents the ability to know where their student’s school bus is. We now can also directly communicate with our parents and students about transportation issues, changes, delays, etc.” he said. This reduces the number of calls parents make to the transportation office as well, translating to less time the office staff has to spend relaying bus locations.
Parents and students responded to this new self-serve solution right away. “Since November 1, we have over 1,000 users who have signed up. Those parents and students have been able to get information in real time about their transportation,” Lance noted. “The app has been really well-received, and for parents that are using it, it has become part of their normal life. They’re using it every day. It is a great tool to give them peace of mind and help them be more proactive in a chaotic world.”
“In 2019,” he said, “that peace of mind is priceless.”