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GPS Buses – A New Breed of School Transportation

Friday March 6, 2015


History of School Buses

The use of school buses to transport kids from home to school dates back as early as 1827. Horse-drawn carts were designed to carry up to 25 students and were popularly called “kid hacks“. A Quaker school in London were the first to use these carts.

1917 kid hacks
Kid hacks

It was around 1886 that the U.S also started using these school buses. The company called Wayne Works were the first to promote the use of such vehicles. They went on to modify this concept to introduce an automobile chassis for the buses in 1914. As time went by, these buses evolved to become much more efficient. Eventually, they became one of the safest means of road transport for school students.

By 1927, full steel body buses came into the picture. These were considered to be the ancestors of the modern buses. Buses with passenger side windows became the trend later on and were used in models that were popularly called, the “California Tops”. These designs were to become a benchmark for the modern day buses.

California tops
California tops

Shortcomings of the Early Buses            

School buses, became much safer to use in time. But if we compare them to the modern buses, the ancestors were still at a huge disadvantage.

  • Lack of comfort was an issue. Relative to the buses of today, the earlier ones had a serious lack of comfort. The number of students that could be capacitated was also low.
  • Used inefficient engines. As the automobile industry flourished throughout the 19th century, so did the quality of engine. This has helped the buses to enjoy better mileage and smoother operation.
  • Drivers’ comfort was also a questionable factor in these buses.
  • Where the buses went or if they stopped at the right bus stops could only be guessed; hence raising serious security concerns.
  • There was no monitoring system to guide drivers in case of a traffic block on an event such as an accident.

The Modern Mammoths

The modern buses are a treat to the eye. With loads of safety and security features, they are the safest vehicles on the road. The school buses were given their now famous yellow colour in 1939. During 1980 to 1990, reflective strips were used on the buses, so that the other drivers could identify them easily. This was followed by the use of LEDs and strobe lights. The 21st century witnessed the integration of GPS into school buses. This was a quantum leap when it came to addressing the issues of safety and security. Being a former military technology, its use in school buses has improved security remarkably.

Benefits of the Modern School Buses

  • GPS tracking system are installed that provides the latest updates on the buses and the kids using them. The data is transmitted in real-time and hence there is no delay in information exchange.
  • Technologies such as GPS, Hybrid engines and many others make school buses of the modern era, way more fuel efficient than what they used to be.
  • Huge reduction in pollution.
  • Stronger chassis, better air conditioning system, seat belts, air bags and many other features make these buses more desirable.
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