Schools may not be open right now, but that doesn’t mean the industry isn’t still hard at work. Tristar Transportation is a school transportation contractor in central Ohio which has found new ways to be better partners to the districts and communities they serve. Tristar’s Executive Vice President Lauren Payne spoke with us recently to share how they are making the best of a hard situation.

Lauren’s grandfather started Tristar Transportation almost 30 years ago to help serve the special needs population in their area. In addition to student transportation, they also provide adult paratransit and wheelchair transportation for community members. For decades the company managed their operation through a DOS computer program that crashed shortly after Lauren stepped into her current role. She was facing a big challenge: finding a modern program that would support the needs of everyone in the company.

After Tristar Transportation made the switch to Traversa, Lauren said they noticed improvements right away. Because Tristar specializes in special needs transportation, their students’ routes require more personalization. One day they may go home after school, but on others they may need to go to an appointment or group facility. Traversa provides the flexibility they need to create realistic and variable routes, and to manage diverse ridership needs. In addition, they are now able to share pertinent information with dispatchers, routers, drivers, school administrators, and their customer service staff with ease. Lauren explained that “having multiple users who can log on at the same is a huge win from a customer service perspective because anyone in the company can pull up a student record, see a route, and even see advanced AVL.” Now everyone in the company can provide data to customers instantly whereas before only a couple of employees would have been able to help.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Tristar has adapted and found ways to serve the needs of their community. Several of the students they transport still need help getting to mental health care facilities and appointments, and the company has found ways to do so safely to ensure that their needs continue to be met. Lauren said, “Being able to help, being able to get the students to where they need to be in a time like this feels good. I’m glad that we can do our part.”

The Tristar team is managing these routes and requests while largely working from home, which would have been much harder with their old DOS system. Lauren noted that “with Traversa already a cloud-based system, that was a big piece of what made it possible for our team to be able to work from home as quickly as possible.” She knew “the importance of having a more cloud-based technology that’s easily accessible and updated more regularly” when she began her search for new software.

Lauren reflected that “what’s really helped us as a company is just being more data driven. Just having that kind of information at our fingertips for executive management to see and make decisions with has been hugely powerful.” With technology and community spirit, Tristar has adapted to the times and is prepared for whatever the future brings.

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