The 2017 Don Carnahan Memorial Grant program will provide winners with up to $50,000 worth of school bus technology hardware from Zonar.
Zonar Systems offers several solutions to the school bus market, including Electronic Vehicle Inspection Report (EVIR), GPS and the ZPass ridership tracking system. Each is designed to help pupil transportation professionals manage their fleet and safely transport students to and from school; some customers say that they have seen financial and efficiency benefits as well.
ZPass used for bus fee programs
Adams 12 Five Star Schools in Thornton, Colo., has been using the ZPass system for a bus fee program. David Anderson, director of transportation and fleet, says that each student is issued a ZPass card to track when they board and disembark the bus. The district charges parents $15 per month, which generated about $300,000 during the last school year. Anderson says he expects the amount of money generated this school year to be about the same. All money goes into the school district’s general fund.
Douglas County School District in Castle Rock, Colo., also uses the ZPass system for its pay-per-ride bus fee program. The district rolled out the program in the fall of 2010, and Director of Transportation Paul Balon says the district has made about $1.2 million so far, which is going toward the transportation department.
ZPass is installed on 335 buses, and it is used to track students and to charge 50 cents each way. The maximum that a parent would be charged for an entire school year is $173.
ZPass bolsters student safety
Balon notes that ZPass has also increased student security since it helps the department keep track of bus passengers, and it has reduced parent calls by about 65%.
“We had a very smooth start to our school year for the elementary students,” Balon added. “We had some students put on the wrong bus at the beginning of this school year, and we knew it immediately.”
Like Balon, Anderson says that ZPass helps his operation monitor students’ location. Steve Simmons, transportation director at Columbus (Ohio) City Schools, believes this capability will contribute to parents’ peace of mind.
The district is currently in the beta testing stage for ZPass, with the system installed on 103 buses. Simmons anticipates that ZPass will also streamline the district’s annual student count week.
“We count students by hand,” Simmons says of the current process. “ZPass will help us identify students by a code, and it will automate our student count.”
Simmons estimates that by using ZPass, the time to complete the process will be reduced from one month to one week.
EVIR, GPS yield smooth workflow, cost savings
Douglas County School District began using EVIR in September, and it is installed on 26 buses.
“The biggest benefit is that we can see that the driver is doing the pre-trip inspection, we can see the amount of time that they’re spending on a pre-trip and we have instantaneous reporting if there’s something wrong with the bus,” Balon says.
He adds that using EVIR has eliminated the duplication of paperwork.
For Anderson’s operation, using EVIR has led to a reduction in the number of large repairs on buses because small problems are reported and repaired quickly.
Simmons says EVIR helps with driver compliance, and an executive summary report provided by Zonar noted that by decreasing the budgeted time for a school bus inspection to 10 minutes, an annual savings of $110,000 was realized.
Adams 12 Five Star Schools also uses Zonar GPS and has optimized routes as a result. “We’ve been able to cut the length of the routes by 20 to 30 minutes,” Anderson says. “When you start costing that out by 150 buses, it really adds up.”
Moreover, the district has integrated the GPS with its routing software. Anderson says that with the combination of the two products, he knows where his buses are, how long routes take, if a bus is on route, how long it takes to load students and a variety of other information.
“It’s a great package all around because it gives you tools that make your job much easier,” he adds.
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