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How to Choose the Right Software for Your School Transport Company

Friday November 2, 2018

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The safest way to transport students of your school would be to have a complete overview of your entire school transportation system at any point in time.

Budget cuts are happening everywhere, with the result that the transport department is forced to squeeze out the most from every dollar spent.

One of the most efficient ways to cut down fuel costs, staffing and to improve vehicle utilization is by optimization of routes.

However, this can be frustrating, time-consuming and inefficient if done manually. Using software packages for school transport is the best way to get this done neatly and efficiently.

How School Transport Software Package is Useful

From creating the school bus routes, scheduling the drivers, and managing unforeseen incidents, the software package for school bus transport must be in tune with the requirements of the school. Any school transportation management software would address the following objectives:

1: Features that make every-day time-consuming tasks easier

•    Allowing easy preparation of trips with auto optimized routes

•    It should be able to manage the presence of students in each stage of the bus trip

•    A few clicks should be enough to plan the rounds for a specific bus contract for a period of a range of dates

2: The activity would be visible immediately in real time

•    The schedule would be accessible and readable in real time

•    Changing the route of one driver to another would be a matter of just a couple of clicks

3: The software package would be in line with the objectives of the business

•    The package should have tools that can help to manage both the drivers as well as the bus attendants

•    It should help to plan the maintenance and renewal of the bus fleet

•    It should give the difference between the monthly projected turnover of the bus and the actuals easily

But while choosing the right software for your school transport company, you must consider certain things as now the market place have flooded with many school bus transportation software kits with various packages. Here we are showcasing certain key things you must take care of.

1: Compatibility with other software

The routing and transportation management software will operate optimally when it is compatible with the other existing programs in your system.

If the integration is good, there is a good possibility that you can derive a variety of reports from the package that will sure make your transport system management easy and efficient.

2: Features of the bus transport system software

The important features that your software package for transport management should possess are the distances to be plied, the route layouts and their complexities, the number of users, etc., among others.

Advanced packages have features that include a layout map of the areas to be covered, maps that can be edited to add new routes and stops, and travel restrictions.  Some other features are:

•    Assignment of bus stops to students (these are defined by the users)

•    Accommodation of right-sided pick-up points

•    Generation of bus passes

•    Option for scheduling pick-up and drop-off points (alternate locations)

•    Calendar facility

•    Student-bus tour history for purpose of report generation

•    Options to customize necessary things

3: Training and Support

Any transport management software package would work best only if you know how to use it effectively. For this, you selected package provider has to provide the required training so that it fits the requirements of your institution.

The software provider should provide training during the time the package is laid out and also beyond this period so that all issue can be sorted out and it can be made to function the way in which it should.

4: Type of software vendor

Rather than choosing a vendor that provides a generalized transportation management package, it is wiser to go for a single vendor that provides a customized end-to-end solution for your specific needs.

Though the former option may cost you less, you may end up making it more expensive if you want amends to be made for the package to suit your system. An end-to-end customized solution will function seamlessly.

5: Calendar-based routing and scheduling

A calendar-based bus schedule helps to organize a trip and allows for the creation of trips quickly, optimally and efficiently. You can edit the schedules with ease. You can even plan for what-if scenarios with efficiently structured advanced software packages.

6: GPS Tracking

Software packages with GPS tracking facility allow you to both track and monitor every bus of your school fleet. Additional information of student in a particular route can be facilitated in integrating RFID options and providing the students with tracking cards. This is precious information as far as the school authorities and parents are concerned.

7: Bus Driver Management

Efficient software programs will help to schedule trips based on drivers’ experience, seniority and expertise. Al trips can further be made to connect to payroll so that month-end salary pay-outs become easier. All these can help to improve retention rates of drivers over the longer term.

8: Management of Changes in Students’ Schedules

See if the software package allows for editing a student’s route to a new one. It should allow setting a student’s status as ‘on vacation’ if they want to stop the school bus transportation for a specific period of time.

9: Matching of Plan vs. Actual

Analysis of GPS data helps the drivers to follow routes that have already been designated. Drivers find it easier to follow the maps of planned routes rather than generic maps displayed by Google.

10: Students with Special Needs

Transportation for students with special needs stands improved by following optimized routes with minimum time on board and proves helpful for generating student data for student reimbursements.

11: Availability of the features on mobile phones

It is greatly convenient for the school authorities as well as parents to receive any notification/alert related to the transportation on mobile phones in real time.

The software package can be designed to send tracking and monitoring signals to servers which disseminates the information to mobile phones.

Facilities that users look out for in School Bus Transportation Management Software

•    Easily input data regarding the pick-up and drop-off stations for the students

•    Maintain details of all the buses (vehicle number, insurance, fuel details, etc.)

•    Maintain details of all students such as contact details, pick-up and drop-off point, etc.

•    SMS facility for parents if any change in scheduled routes or timings

•    All data related to bus maintenance and insurance payments maintained

•    Define bus charges and timings for students for pick-up and drop-off points

•    Easy generation of reports

Conclusion

A software package which helps to manage all the sub-processes that are involved in student transportation through the school buses includes passenger tracking, route optimization, ease driver-parent-school communication, generate comprehensive reports, and facilitate real-time management of different parts of the transportation service. This will help to improve the savings and money control and will ensure student safety.

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