As we head into a new year – is it just me or did 2019 speed past? – we have an opportunity, hopefully with renewed energy after a well-deserved holiday break, to take stock of what we learned last year and apply it for a successful 2020. Here are some offerings from SBF related to team-building and technology.
For one, we learned of some impressive technology-related achievements from our 2019 Administrator of the Year John Hennessey. He kicked off his career in student transportation using routing expertise he gained from his public transportation work to help a local school district that was struggling with arrival times. Hennessey liked it so much that he eventually made the move to pupil transportation.
I think this success story is a case in point that technology can’t solve all our problems on its own. That can only happen if the people employing it are collaborating effectively, as Hennessey and the public transportation agency he worked for at the time, Lowell (Lo-Law) Transit Management Inc., did with the school district they were assisting.
There was plenty of evidence of successful teamwork in play at the National Association for Pupil Transportation Conference in Columbus, Ohio, in November.
One of the things I enjoyed most about covering that event was watching the team-building exercise led by the inspirational Karen Main, the founder and CEO of Innovations in Training. She showed how important each team member’s role is, with each one bringing something different to the table. Quite literally, in this case: Each team member in the group had specifically assigned Legos to contribute to a replica of a model building. All team members had to communicate and cooperate with each other to accomplish the goal of making their replica look exactly like the model.
I found it really rewarding to watch attendees come together to build something and listen to group members talk about how they learned to adapt to the game’s rules and were committed to not letting each other down. They also embraced the idea that “You don’t have a strategy the first time [you work on something], because you’re learning and figuring it out,” as one attendee very astutely observed. They had the patience to learn and figure that out together.
Technology can’t solve all our problems on its own. That can only happen if the people employing it are working together effectively.
Additionally, some presenters discussed their experiences with implementing different types of technology on school buses at their districts in peer-to-peer learning sessions. They walked attendees through equipping buses with fire suppression technology, converting to new routing software, piloting new stop-arm technology, and rolling out onboard Wi-Fi from Kajeet. (We also cover other technological tools that were featured on the NAPT Trade Show floor in our January 2020 issue.)
And just weeks before the NAPT conference, NASDPTS members converged upon our nation’s capital to discuss the latest in federal investigations and the safety recommendations that stemmed from them, as well as technology that can further enhance safety. (Read more of our coverage of both conferences in the January issue.)
Morevover, Trish Reed, vice president and general manager of IC Bus, discussed how changing demographics, including more Generation Xers and Millennials moving into higher-level positions, is driving an increasing demand for more safety technology, such as collision mitigation, on school buses.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and a former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, talked with attendees about the School Bus Safety Act of 2019 (H.R. 3959) that she has co-sponsored with Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-09).
“I take this approach toward technology: If you plan for the worst-case scenario, you have the best chance of success,” she said.
To help our readers gain the best chance of success, we strived to provide ample technology resources in this issue. If you have any other ideas for technology for the yellow bus that you would like us to look into, write your suggestions in the comments section below.