The school lunches need to be packed. The kids’ shoes need to be put on. And the school bus is just a block away.
Will your kids make it in time?
Now Durham Public Schools parents can get advance notice through Here Comes the Bus, a free app that lets parents track the location of their children’s school bus.
The app was developed by Synovia Solutions, a technology company based in Indianapolis, Indiana. More than two dozen school systems nationwide are using it.
DPS launched a pilot program for the app last spring at three schools – Pearsontown Magnet Elementary, Rogers-Herr Middle School and Southwest Elementary – says DPS spokeswoman Chrissy Deal. While other districts have tiered pricing for the app, DPS parents, however, pay nothing for the service.
“We discussed with Synovia that it should be free,” Deal says.
Wayne Township schools in Indianapolis began offering the app to parents in July. Janet Petrisin, director of transportation for Wayne Township, says she has received excellent feedback from parents, especially those who have several children, each riding a different bus.
“They love it,” Petrisin says. “We are thrilled.”
For security purposes, parents can track only the school bus their child rides. However, students themselves are not tracked, so the app cannot be used to determine if their child got on the bus.
“We can’t make the kid get on the bus,” Petrisin says.
Here Comes the Bus is part of DPS’s $129,000 annual contract with the Synovia. DPS was already tracking its fleet of more than 200 buses using the company’s GPS technology, which helps analyze routes for efficiency. “Our bus drivers are used to being tracked,” Deal says. “It is another layer of accountability for the bus drivers,”
Using a Geo Fence feature, parents also can set an alert. They will then receive a text or push notification telling them when the bus is within a certain distance or time from the stop. Public transit agencies use a similar app, TransLoc, which lets riders see where their bus is along the route and receive an alert when it approaches a stop.
“It’s good for planning,” Deal says of Here Comes the Bus. It also prevents kids from having to stand at the stop for a long time in bad weather. “We’ve been pleased so far.”
How to use it
To use the app, parents need their child’s student identification number, which can be found on documents such as a report card or enrollment forms. Go to the DPS website, www.dpsnc.net, and click on the link “Here Comes the Bus,” and follow the instructions. The app can be installed on a desktop, tablet and mobile phone, for both Apple and Android users. It is available in English, Spanish and French.