Running a school is not easy. And running an efficient school transport system is definitely not any easier.
You have to ensure coordination between school, bus, students, drivers, and the route. All this, while making sure that the ward is not delayed or the bus is not idle for a long period.
The way you plan your school bus journeys can determine the costs of running the transport system. An ill-managed system not only hampers regular operations but also increases the daily costs.
This is where bus route optimization comes into the picture. This is the technique by which the best appropriate route is selected based on the number of stops, timing and the capacity of students.
The prime goal is to reduce both the total time buses run without students on board as well as to bring a drop on the routes taken along the way.
Moreover, an efficient system also limits the fuel costs and staffing expenses to as minimal as possible.
Route optimization also enhances the safety ring around students as the managers can select a journey by considering stop location, avoiding the areas that have a bumpy ride or any accident-prone zones.
Here is how you can effectively optimize your routes
1.Have a transport manager
Most schools try to double up a teacher as a transport coordinator to cut down expenses. While it may help you save a few bucks, it will be a stress multiplier.
The transport manager will be responsible for the students’ database, routes that the bus take and the drivers’ rotation.
Having a specified person for this role, not only gives parents a point of contact but also gives the school a designated personnel that they can hold accountable in case of any delay or untoward incident.
With a good school bus tracking software, everything is virtually under one user’s control. The co-coordinator need not fiddle with multiple files or papers as all information on drivers, students, and their addresses is just a click away and everything is available online.
2.Have a clear schedule in mind
Proper and advance planning is the key to getting everything right and on time.
Right before the journey begins, the transport in-charge needs to have a clear idea of how many pickups are scheduled, which students are to be picked up and how long will each pickup take.
It is also better to have a fixed route in mind to avoid last-minute confusion. Have a clarity on the starting point and plan the course ahead accordingly.
While making the plan, it is imperative to keep in mind the distance between the students’ homes and the maximum time that each ward can take to board the bus.
Specify the number of students that each bus is supposed to pick. You don’t want too many huddled in a vehicle and each of them ending up late at the school.
If you handle multiple schools or run a transport company, it is simpler to group the children either based on their schools or the route.
Choose if the bus is supposed to stop at each pickup point or will there be common transfer points. If there is a common bus stop from where multiple children will board, ensure that it is not too far off for anyone.
3. Have the right and updated student records
The primary rule for schools is to get the basic information right. You don’t want your drivers to drive the vehicle all the way to a destination and instead wait at the wrong bus stop or house.
Make sure you have updated addresses and contact information of the ward. Also, in case your pick up point is not the house but something that is nearby, ensure that you get the closest stop right.
Also, have the students’ timetable right. Know which days the kids get an off early or if there is any special class that’s planned. Have details if the parents have requested for a temporary change in pick-up point.
4. Look for traffic along the way, better alternatives and use an up-to-date map
You must carry out an efficiency check on the existing routes. Look out for roadblocks, one-sided pickups, accident-prone areas or routes that likely have a large movement of vehicles.
While early in the morning, you might find deserted roads, in the evening when you need to drop the children back, the same route may be chockablock. Knowledge of normal traffic on the route on any point of the day will help you better organize the drive.
The school bus routing software is aided by the GPS technology which, you can get real-time traffic updates as and when you are driving. As a result, even if your initial assessment has gone wrong, you can still save some of your time.
Even if you do not use a tracking software, mapping these days will provide you an estimate of the time that each route takes. Choose the road that can result in children being dropped at school in the shortest time possible.
If you do use maps, be sure to update them regularly. Most map software systems require an upgrade once or twice a year. The new version will be updated with changes in the local road system if any. Just set a reminder so that you don’t miss an upgrade.
5. Get greater insight from real-time updates
The biggest advantage of a school bus tracker is that you can control everything in real-time. In case an issue develops, the manager can be updated at the same time and a counter-strategy can hence be developed within minutes.
Most bus delays happen because the students are not ready or are delayed while coming to the stop.
With the use of school bus GPS tracking system, parents can be in the loop of the exact location of the bus. They can hence, ensure that the ward is ready before the bus arrives. This results in significant time savings and maybe can help you ditch the traffic by a wafer-thin margin.
The finest school bus tracking software will take care of all the above-mentioned needs and will deliver to you the most efficient routes in the best possible time.
It will manage all the data regarding the student’s geocoded address points, travel constraints, best available routes, turn restrictions by bus size, estimated traffic and the school timings, and will enable you to choose the option that you consider the most prominent.
When you can put the entire scheduling headache on an advanced solution, why fret over it?