Here Comes the Bus implementation undergoes changes
This year, the WCSD is changing its implementation of the Here Comes the Bus program begun in the 2016-2017 school year, opting out of the student-ridership program and instead using only the GPS tracking system.
In the fall of 2015, a student was left on a WCSD bus after the completion of the regular bus route.
In response, the WCSD implemented Sylvania Solution’s Here Comes the Bus program for students in Pre-K through sixth grade in the 2016-2017 school year.
According to the Here Comes the Bus website, the program consists of two parts: the Here Comes the Bus app technology and student-ridership technology.
As enumerated on the website, the Here Comes the Bus app allows parents to enter their child’s information, giving them access to the GPS location of the bus and where it is in its route at any given time.
The student-ridership program gives students cards, which they then use to swipe when they got on and off of the bus, preventing a driver from finishing their route until all logged children have exited.
According to Superintendent Michael Tefs, the district is no longer following the student-ridership aspect of the program because of complications with the technology and student use.
Specifically, he mentions that the cards proved difficult to use for younger students, citing that students chewed on the cards and, in many cases, were unable to reach the swipe register.
Moreso, however, Tefs said that while the student-ridership technology needs to become more easy to use before it is implemented again, the GPS feature remains useful.
“That technology doesn’t work… We’re still engaged with the company, so one of the things that we have maintained is GPS and all of the mechanical analytics,” Tefs said.
Although student-ridership is not currently being used, the Transportation Dept. is taking measures to monitor whether students have gotten off the bus at the end of the route.
According to Transportation Supervisor Vic Cole, bus drivers are following a few new procedures instead of the student-ridership program to track individual students.
In addition to this daily procedure, bus drivers receive training and attend in-services every year to learn how to keep students safe.
“Our bus drivers are trained and it’s the law that at the end of the bus run, they walk the bus and check for leftover students. Some of our buses have an alarm after two minutes the bus is off; if the driver has not walked to the back of the bus and opened the back door, a loud alarm will start. We do bus training and in-services each year for the safety of our students,” Cole said.
At the same time, the district is not discounting the possibility that the student-ridership program could be reintroduced in the future.
“Some day we hope to get back to [the program],” Tefs said.
While he says the WCSD eventually plans to participate in the student-ridership program again, the change will not happen until the technology advances.
Furthermore, Cole said that work is still being done on the Here Comes The Bus contract, though it has been officially purchased, and further asserts that Sylvania Solutions has sent emails to parents who use the program to update them on the change.