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A Simple Guide to Auto Route Optimization in School Buses

Friday January 11, 2019

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The world we live in is no longer as safe as it used to be. Crimes, especially against young children, are on the rise. Hardly a day or two passes without any crime against children being reported.

In addition, mishaps and accidents are a threat to the lives of students. As a result, parents are worried more than ever about the well being of their school going children.

Due to this reason schools have sought the help of technology to ensure the safety of the students who use their school bus to commute to and from school.

Read Also: Bus Route Optimization Tips for School Bus Safety and Economy

While cameras help school authorities to keep an eye on children when they are within the campus, the tracking software enables them to ensure their safety during their trip to and back from the school. The software also enables parents to keep track of their children through their mobile devices.

As such, the aim of this post is to provide some information on school bus auto route optimization. So, let us start by understanding as to what auto route optimization actually means. 

Auto Route Optimization – What Is It

Optimization of the school bus route is a process wherein the school transportation administrator generates one set of routes to ensure that all children are transported to and from school safely and on time.

Bus route optimization enables schools to reduce the number of buses and the distance to be travelled, thus contributing in saving fuel and other costs. It may not be possible to achieve this always, but it is certainly one of the important goals.

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School bus routes can be optimized in many ways. A simple stop optimization could result in savings in running miles. It involves keeping the same stops on the routes and changing the order in which each stop is visited.

Another option is to observe stops on several routes and determine whether grouping them differently could result in a reduction in the distance travelled.

However, care should be taken not to overload the bus by assigning too many students in each route. Further, enough time should be allocated to buses to complete a trip.

As such, a number of components have to be considered while optimizing school bus routes. It is not an easy task to keep track of every variable in mind and manually optimize the school bus routes.

It is, therefore, best done with the help of software with built-in artificial intelligence capability. This software makes use of an algorithm to optimize the routes.

How Does School Bus Auto Route Optimization Work?

The route optimization software automatically creates routes on the basis of the specifications that the users provide. The parameters that the users may incorporate into the algorithm may include the following:

  • The maximum time a student should spend on the bus.
  • The maximum time allowed for the entire route. The starting point and destination is also taken into account in this case. The preferred pickup point in each school bus route may also be included as a parameter.
  • Specify the capacity.
  • Group the students either by school or route
  • Consider whether the bus should stop at each of the school in the route or at transfer points.
  • Choose buses to be used from the fleet.
  • Specify the size of the bus to be used on a specific route.

Routes are often created on the basis of the students to be included. Students may be added based on the school in which they are studying and the boundary or zone they are being transported to.

Once a route is finalized, it can be viewed on a map with each and every stop clearly marked. Reports can also be printed and reviewed. The software allows this process to run until the optimum route is determined.

The important aspect to be kept in mind is that this is just the starting point. Even after activating a route, it can be manipulated to suit the needs of the school.

What Are The Benefits Of Auto Route Optimization?

Read Also : Is Bus Route Optimization the Perfect Solution to Save Money

School bus operators often find it challenging to optimize the operational costs. They can reduce their costs only by optimizing their routes. The auto-routing ability of the software helps to do exactly that and derive a number of benefits. They include the following:

The built-in AI capability of the software provides auto suggestions on the most fuel-efficient routes. In addition, it carries out efficiency checks to make sure that all the current school bus routes are operating at their optimum capacity.

A lot of recorded data related to routes, pick up points, school buses and their seating capacity are made use of for the purpose. Vehicle assignments are often initiated by considering the current data collated in the registration forms.

 This feature is very helpful in efficiently managing multiple pick-up points in one route. If a kid that is being picked up in a route changes location, the system comes up with a contingency plan and suggests the pickup and drop points.

The route optimization feature of the software also helps to identify the shortest route. Pick up and drop points are suggested based on the earlier points assigned. It is carried out after thorough analysis and suggests the best pick-up point for each every student in the shortest route.

The software provides school bus operators not only with feedback but also suggestions for achieving time and fuel efficiency.

The school bus auto route optimization software spares the in-charge of the efforts involved in manually allocating the routes.

It also allows the school bus drivers to drive peacefully as they are always provided with an updated route map that clearly indicates the pickup as well as drop points.

When a school wants to redistrict and implement optimize routes the software enables them to tweak the routes. Through optimization, it is possible to eliminate few trips and this allows the school to save substantial amount of money.

It is the key features of the auto route optimization that make it extremely useful: They include the following:

1. Pick up and drop points are taken into account when suggesting a route.

2. Optimizes the pickup points and improves efficiency.

3. Automatically updates the best pick-up order, hence saving time and fuel consumption.

4. Auto optimization aligns multiple pick-up points in one route to create the shortest route.

5. Centralization of data enables the determination of the shortest route to reduce the distance travelled.     

6. The route optimization application automatically modifies the current seating capacity based on the number of students in a route.

7. The beauty of the system is that it automatically collects the data whenever the pickup or drop off point is modified.

9. It is also capable of suggesting alternate best routes to avoid traffic.

Finally, the software may also be employed for the purpose of generating new ideas with respect to route optimization. Using the school bus auto route optimization software it is also possible to identify new ways to cut routes and save money.