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July 23, 2013  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Tips and tools to select safe stops

Pupil transporters recommend considering everything from whether to use mid-block stops or corner stops to avoiding situations where students must cross a busy street to ensuring that the bus has enough room to maneuver in the area. Staff input and routing software can assist in this task.

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Corner stops versus mid-block stops. The range of environments in which a district or bus company provides service will often dictate whether a stop is placed in the middle of a block (mid-block) or on the corner. John Fahey, senior consultant at Tyler Technologies and past assistant superintendent of service center operations at Buffalo (N.Y.) Public Schools, says that since Buffalo is an urban environment, Buffalo Public Schools used corner stops, explaining that students would wait as the bus stopped at the beginning of the intersection.

He notes, however, that mid-block stops have advantages. “You don’t have an intersection there, so you might have less traffic to worry about.”

Carol Karl, safety coordinator at Illinois Central School Bus in Bloomington, Ill., is in favor of mid-block stops, and it is a practice that Illinois Central School Bus upholds.

“If you’re at a mid-block location, the bus, by virtue of its stop arm and lights, can control the traffic,” she reasons. “If you’re doing corner stops, you’re only controlling one street of traffic — you can’t control the other street.”

With Trapeze Group’s routing software, VEO Transportation, users can create a corner stop or an address stop, according to Steven McKinley, operations manager, school division. Users then have access to alternate stops that are turned on and off automatically based on safety parameters that the users have set.

“They’re turned on and off based on whether the street has sidewalks, if the students can cross at intersections and other safety policies and parameters that have been set,” McKinley explains. “It helps establish the options for traveling to or from that bus stop safely.”

U.S. Computing’s program has tools that allow the user to do analysis to see how far students are walking to stops, and the software can create safe walking paths for students to get to and from the stops.  

EDULOG President Jason Corbally says that with mapping technology becoming so widely used, from a county’s GIS agency EDULOG can get data on high-crash corridors, and that data can be incorporated into the company’s routing software, which can help operations in deciding bus stops’ placement.

“They also carry data of where pedestrians most often get hit by cars,” Corbally says of a county’s GIS agency.

 • Avoid proximity to sex offenders’/predators’ houses. This is common sense, and officials say they strive to stay abreast of these people who reside in their areas of service. They typically have access to this information from their sheriff’s office, and Hennerley says that his operation regularly updates a bulletin board with details about the predators and offenders.
 
In addition, routing software from Transfinder, Tyler Technologies, EDULOG, U.S. Computing and Trapeze Group all offer the ability to store information about sexual predators and sex offenders in the system so that notifications will appear if bus stops or students are in the vicinity of these individuals’ homes.

With Trapeze Group’s VEO Transportation software, users can create a corner or an address stop. They then have access to alternate stops that are turned on and off automatically based on safety parameters that the users have set.
<p>With Trapeze Group’s VEO Transportation software, users can create a corner or an address stop. They then have access to alternate stops that are turned on and off automatically based on safety parameters that the users have set.</p>
Minimize cross-over, and don’t overload stops. Fahey says students should approach a bus stop with the least amount of cross-over possible (i.e., students crossing the street to reach the stop) to reduce the potential of getting struck by a vehicle.   

“Routing software should recognize the ability to minimize cross-overs and allow you to put in that restriction,” he adds.

Karl, whose company uses Tyler Technologies’ Versatrans routing software, says that it enables her routers to see where the majority of the students they transport are coming from, so they can make right-side stops to cut down on the number of students crossing the street to get to a stop.  

Another item to consider, Fahey says, is the number of students at each stop, noting that having too many at one stop could create a hazardous environment. Karl says that with the Versatrans software, the user can enter the maximum number of students desired at a specific stop, and stops will be created based on that information.

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