BRENTWOOD, N.H. — The Provider Enterprises has been providing transportation services for students with special needs for more than 30 years, and for the last eight, the company’s use of GPS has improved driver accountability and helped to reduce costs.

The Provider Enterprises transports approximately 1,800 special-needs children daily on more than 250 vehicles in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts. CEO Garrett Scholes told SBF that the drivers park the buses at their homes during non-work hours.

“We had a hard time knowing exactly where our vehicles were, how fast the drivers were going, whether they were arriving to their first pickup on time and arriving at school on time, so that’s why we bought the GPS system — we needed more driver management,” he explained. “We also use the system to verify the drivers’ timecards and to help prevent driver idling.”

Scholes said another benefit of the technology, which is provided by Navman Wireless, is that it helps in verifying drivers’ whereabouts for parents who may dispute that a driver arrived to pick up their child.   

“When we first implemented the system, our payroll went down by about 4%,” he added. “The system paid for itself within a year of implementing it.”

The Provider Enterprises has also improved its maintenance response time within the last several years by moving all vehicle maintenance into a building that neighbors the company’s headquarters.

“We bought the building next to us, which is a 6,000-square foot building, and we do all of our maintenance there. We did that in 2010. We went from 3 acres to 20 acres,” Scholes said. “The maintenance facility is about 500 feet off a highway in New Hampshire, so maintenance turnaround and response time to downed vehicles has been reduced by about 45 minutes.”

In the future, he hopes to explore the benefits of using propane autogas to power vehicles. (Currently, about 25% of the company’s vehicles are powered by diesel and the rest are powered by gasoline.)

“I’m curious to partner with a school district to test propane-powered buses,” Scholes said. “I think there could be a cost benefit for the school district and for us.”

To learn more about Provider Enterprises, check out SBF’s profile on the company.