“In terms of Google Earth, we can export all essential data — students, stops and route information — to Google Earth, enabling transportation directors to see the information in real-world conditions and e-mail the maps to anyone within the district,” she explains.
Another unique feature of Routefinder Pro is its ability to provide custom reports. “The custom reports help our clients manage district and statewide report requirements,” Pilliod says. “We also have a report library within our client portal — users can access hundreds of report templates, download a template and integrate their data into the template. This makes their operations visually efficient to the district and the state.”
To incorporate GPS data, Transfinder offers its Busfinder GPS interface. Busfinder displays real-time or historical GPS data simultaneously with planned routes on the same map, while in routing mode. End users can then adjust their routes in a one-step process.
Transfinder currently offers an optional GPS implementation service for its clients that do not utilize GPS technology: RouteBuilder. RouteBuilder creates routes as school bus drivers drive.
“We loan our clients a set of handheld GPS units for the drivers,” Pilliod explains. “The drivers press a button [on the unit] every time they make a stop and that’s recorded so that the routes will be shown with the stops. Transportation officials can view the routes in Routefinder Pro through a RouteBuilder interface and manipulate them for time and distance. This is a way for school districts to get a taste of GPS and get their routes implemented quickly.”
Additional features of Routefinder Pro include shuttle run, field trip management and redistricting capabilities.
The software also has built-in reminders to notify personnel on steps they need to take to ensure that state requirements for vehicle upkeep and staff development are met.
Tyler’s VersaTrans Solution
Tyler’s VersaTrans Solution offers two versions of routing and planning software for pupil transportation operations: VersaTrans RP Standard Edition and VersaTrans RP Limited Edition. The standard edition is a solution for operations of all sizes, while the latter is a solution for operations with limited student enrollment.
A standout feature of the software is its map. It is designed for transportation and includes bus stops; district, school and walk boundaries; hazardous zones and streets; cross-street restrictions; right-side only pickups; and school locations with driveways.
“The map makes routing very easy,” Marketing Manager Melissa Belec says. “It grows with you as you insert or change things like house number ranges, hazards on the street and places where kids can’t cross the street. All of that information is stored in the map. The router doesn’t necessarily need to know the area to create a route that would be acceptable to the school district.”
Belec adds that because the data are stored in the map, not the route, the data are still available when a route is deleted and can be incorporated into a new route.
VersaTrans RP is equipped to create and manage both regular-ed and special- needs school bus routes, and Belec says one of the software’s strengths is its ability to integrate the intricacies that some special-needs students require.
“It handles special-needs routing exceptionally well by tracking what equipment a bus can accommodate,” she explains. “If the vehicle only has slots for four wheelchairs, [the software] would know, in routing, that you can’t pick up a fifth wheelchair-bound student because there wouldn’t be space for the student. It does the same thing for harnesses and other special equipment.”
VersaTrans RP also factors in the additional time it takes to load a special-needs student compared to a regular- ed student and creates routes that reflect the additional time.
Furthermore, the software is SIF (Schools Interoperability Framework) certified, signifying that it improves information-sharing within a school district and helps to streamline decision making. Belec says the software can communicate with almost any student information system so that users can input student data. VersaTrans RP can be programmed to import student data automatically at a frequency set by the end user.
Most of Tyler’s VersaTrans Solution’s software can be used in conjunction with one another. For instance, VersaTrans RP users can track their vehicles with VersaTrans OnScreen, the company’s GPS tracking and management system.
VersaTrans RP can manage shuttle routes as well, and it includes a predator tracking function to protect bus riders. In addition, the standard edition features district planning tools, but the limited edition does not.