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July 28, 2011  |   Comments (5)   |   Post a comment

Cutting Costs With Routing Software

School bus routing software can drastically reduce costs through routing optimization, and it can protect student riders by helping users identify hazardous landmarks and arrange for curbside pickup.

by Brittany-Marie Swanson

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EDULOG’s transportation management system allows for real-time tracking of school buses and displays actual and planned times at stops.
<p>EDULOG’s transportation management system allows for real-time tracking of school buses and displays actual and planned times at stops.</p>

Software eases special-needs transportation  
Routing software can also help to effectively manage the transportation of special-needs students by incorporating information about specific bus requirements — for example, wheelchair lifts — and multiple stops.

"ArcLogistics has the function to do what we call 'paired orders' — it's essentially a paratransit application," Pearlman explains. "So if you have special-needs students that may require a specially equipped bus — wheelchair lift, oxygen-enabled, aid on the bus, that type of thing — you can set those specialties to be sure that the properly equipped bus is assigned to that student."

In addition, Esri's software can also help districts to account for the more complicated routes needed to transport special-needs students.

"Frequently in paratransit application, unlike the normal school bus route ... you're picking up multiple students at multiple places and they need to be dropped off at multiple locations," Pearlman adds. "[ArcLogistics] allows you to set those trips and generate the route so you can pick up students at different places and drop them off at different places, as opposed to a standard bus routing algorithm."

Tyler Technologies' Versatrans product suite of school transportation software also eases the transportation of special-needs students by incorporating their information with that of regular-ed students.

"[Versatrans] manages all your students, including special-needs students, within one database. In one software application, they can be routed on separate buses or together on the same buses, requiring no other applications to manage accommodations for special-needs student transportation," Guzewich says.

Optimization will cut costs
Truly optimized routing software will save a district time and money.  By using the software, transportation officials can determine the shortest, fastest and safest routes — as well as the number of vehicles actually needed.

"One of the major ways to reduce costs is to create efficiencies using our routing software that can eliminate a route, which can save a considerable amount of money over time. This can, in turn, reduce the number of buses that are on the road — and therefore reduce fuel usage and all the costs associated with that," Pilliod says.

Guzewich agrees that creating efficiencies is the best way to cut costs.

"Consolidating bus stops and reducing mileage are great ways to become more efficient," he says. "But understanding the operating cost of each vehicle is essential. The most inefficient vehicle in your fleet might not be the oldest. Versatrans allows you to identify an inefficient vehicle so you can remove it from your active fleet or put it on a less demanding run."

Young says that EDULOG's routing software's optimization capabilities helped Memphis (Tenn.) City Schools save $8.2 million in one year. Its software, he says, allows districts to test out innumerable "what if" scenarios and then examine the cost.

"Generally, our users see reduction in operating costs for their fleet between 15 and 30 percent when they implement ArcLogistics," Pearlman says. "And you'll see that if you're doing efficient route planning, the first thing you're going to do is reduce the amount of miles you drive."

"Many of our clients achieve significant cost savings year after year through the use of the extensive planning and analytical tools in Versatrans," Guzewich explains. "This is where the ability to quickly develop multiple scenarios and compare operating costs pays off."

"Using routing software," he adds, "is the only way to understand what the impact will be before changes are implemented. When transportation officials go to the school board or the community with proposed transportation changes, they will have all of the analytical data to effectively communicate the reasons for and impact of a change."

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@Sonia It looks like they compared some of the market leaders here. I'm sure that BusBoss is a good program, but may not have the market penetration that these have. It would have taken someone years to write about all of the potential routing software choices on the market, so the author had to pick from a few. Also, aren't you the same Sonia Mastros that works for Orbit Software...the company that owns BusBoss? :)

Chad    |    Feb 06, 2014 10:16 AM

These programs try to accurately simulate what a bus faces travelling a given route. In our area the schoolboards treat them like 'blackbox' foolproof software. Therefore, when a bus driver pleads they cannot match the program's prediction, there is conflict. Usually the schoolboard people support the black-box and the driver is then found wrong or lying. A good example is traffic signals. Here in the GTA Greater Toronto Area it can take 3 consecutive signal cycles to get through some locations (2 minutes or 120sec. for each signal cycle). Or it may be less, depending on traffic flow that day. What about random delivery trucks blocking subdivision streets? All of these software based planning aids are just a simulation prediction tool. They cannot be totally dynamic to show all the day to day variables. Even EMS and Fire services set goals like we'll be there in 'X' minutes, 9 out of 10 times. I just wish the schoolboards and contracted operators would stop giving the gears to bus drivers when their expensive 'black-box' software predictions fail. They often spit-out uncanny short run times.

Mike Gough    |    Jul 26, 2012 07:16 AM

Timberlane and Hampstead School Districts use Edulog. It greatly reduces the time involved in planning bus routes. The staff at Edulog are very helpful.

Sandy Hodgkins    |    Aug 01, 2011 04:39 AM

6 Alloy circle Baltimore MD 21220

Lamont    |    Jul 29, 2011 05:58 AM

Why is this article limited to these 5 vendors? Information was submitted about BusBoss, a program that does all of the above and also provides Fleet Optimization. Why is BusBoss ( mentioned? School Districts are looking for the best programs available not just those that advertise on your site.

Sonia Mastros    |    Jul 28, 2011 05:50 PM

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