I never thought I’d see the day when my grandparents would use the Internet. But by the time I was in college in 2000, my grandfather was e-mailing me regularly, mostly about the weather in Lake Tahoe, Calif., where he lived. When folks who lived through the Great Depression are online, you know the time has come for everyone to get Web savvy.

I’ve talked with many in the school transportation industry who put a lot of faith in the pen-and-paper systems they’ve built at their operations, and they are skeptical of anything high-tech. In fact, we’ve profiled operations in our annual Top Shops and Great Fleets series that eschew software systems and the Internet and get by just fine with what they’ve had for decades. And I can respect that.

But when it comes to learning more about the industry and current trends, interacting with peers, researching ways to save money or just keeping an eye on the job market, there is no faster, easier and cheaper way to do it than by going online.

Virtual watercooler
Many SBF subscribers say their biggest interest is in reading about what school transporters in other regions are doing. The best way to do that without spending a dime? Go online. Not only can you network with others in the industry on the SBF Website by reading and posting comments on stories and blog posts, but you can discuss ideas on our forums and our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

I love seeing the exchange of knowledge going on in our forum. It’s great to see bus technicians, transportation managers and drivers asking for help with problems and getting solid answers from someone who could be hundreds or thousands of miles away. And on LinkedIn, members of the SBF group are currently discussing fleet management systems, texting while driving, trade shows and career advancement.

Has your budget for travel been eliminated? Go online! More often than not, presentations and photos from conferences are posted online. Websites like ours offer Web seminars with OEMs and industry experts. You can even attend virtual tradeshows.

Want to compare manufacturers for an upcoming equipment purchase? Go online! SBF maintains an online suppliers directory for every category of school bus product you can think of. Plus, we have a section that features individual products with a description, photo and link to the manufacturer’s Website.

The future is now
Even if it seems unlikely now, I guarantee you at least part of your job functions will be online in the next 10 years. You know that computer screen you sit in front of for hours a day? Soon you’ll be doing much more on a portable device that allows you to check in with all your systems and programs on the go.

Maybe you’ve heard something about “cloud computing.” As technology shifts to this paradigm, much of what we now work on at our desktop computers, such as word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and e-mail, is migrating to Web-based applications that can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection. Multiple contributors will be able to work on a document at the same time. You can practice this now using Google Documents, but you’ll have to go online.

About the author

Claire Atkinson

Senior Editor

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