WILMINGTON, N.C. — North Carolina crowned its first school bus routing competition champion at a state association event here last week.
The North Carolina Pupil Transportation Association (NCPTA) held the first statewide school bus routing competition at its Transposium on June 27. Participants competed to produce the most efficient routes using a set of training data representing a summer school scenario.
Participants used TIMS: North Carolina’s statewide Transportation Information Management System. The system is powered by routing software from Education Logistics (Edulog) through a statewide license with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
The competition was coordinated by Kevin Hart, a TIMS project leader with the Institute for Transportation Research and Education (ITRE) at North Carolina State University. Support for TIMS is provided to school districts through offices at ITRE and University of North Carolina-Charlotte’s Urban Institute.
Participants were asked to complete summer school routes using the fewest number of buses (up to six were available) and minimizing daily miles and driver hours, while having the minimum average student ride times. Solutions had to hit the required school bell time windows with no stops prior to 7 a.m.
As the dust settled, solutions from three contestants rose to the top. Third place (Andrea Barreiro, Moore County Schools) and second place (Misty Johnson, Johnston County Public Schools) received cash awards from the NCPTA.
First place was awarded to Karen Sholar, TIMS coordinator for Duplin County Schools. Karen has worked with TIMS for 15 years.
“It was fun, even though it was nerve-wracking,” Sholar said of the experience.
“For years now, North Carolina has held competitions for bus drivers and school bus inspectors,” Hart said. “We realized that routers are another group of dedicated professionals that too often go unrecognized. We took this opportunity to not only celebrate these folks, but also to select the best of the best. In addition to the recognition, we hope that the annual TIMS Competition will help school bus routers strive to improve their skills with the Edulog software.”
The grand prize, provided by Edulog, includes airfare, lodging and scholarship to the supplier’s International User Conference, which will be held in Clark County, Nev., from Feb. 24 to 28, 2020. The conference is held along with Edulog’s Student Transportation Leadership Conference, which draws attendees from districts across the U.S., regardless of whether they use Edulog software.
Derek Graham is an industry consultant with clients that include Education Logistics (Edulog), a provider of school bus routing software solutions, school bus GPS tracking, and other related systems. He previously served as state pupil transportation director in North Carolina for 21 years.