Pupil transportation departments often deal with jam-packed schedules, ever-changing driver and vehicle availability, and sometimes, strict budgets, and to keep up, many are relying on management software systems.
These systems can help departments track daily routing, scheduling for field trips, and driver time and attendance. School Bus Fleet spoke with several management software suppliers and some pupil transporters about the latest software offerings and how they can assist in collecting, tracking, and analyzing fleet data for more efficient time management and budgeting.
busHive to Streamline Field Trip Scheduling, Billing
With its user-friendly software, busHive specializes in scheduling for day-to-day routing and field trips.
The platform is designed to give school bus operators a view of driver and vehicle availability using color-coordinated displays, and alert them of any scheduling issues such as trip/route conflicts, driver overtime, and availability.
“School districts are looking for ways to automate their driver rotations for trips,” Mann says. “They require tools that are flexible enough to handle different types of rotations based on seniority, hours, or availability.”
Regina Graham, the transportation director for Wood County (W.Va.) Schools, says busHive has helped significantly in scheduling the district’s field trips.
“With a driver shortage, sometimes it gets a little tight trying to run the regular [routes] and run [field] trips,” Graham explains. “With this software, we can create blackout dates and times to limit the number of trips we can do on any one day. The schools and teachers can track the progress of their trip requests so they know where it is in the approval process, eliminating calls to the transportation department.”
In addition to field trips, Graham says that Wood County Schools has benefited from the software’s payroll features.
Using a spreadsheet created by busHive, the district’s payroll department can ensure field trips are billed correctly and are within the transportation budget, she explains.
“Previously, we had to hand type everything into the computer, [but] now with busHive there is no need to retype anything, helping us to eliminate human errors,” Graham adds.
Wood County Schools currently has 104 full-time and part-time bus drivers for 89 routes.
ByteCurve 360 Offers All-In-One Access to Fleet Data
Using a single-operating platform, ByteCurve 360 is designed to integrate routing and onboard devices, such as GPS, to ensure all transportation data is in one central location.
“One of the main challenges we hear across the industry is to have quick and easy access to meaningful information so that [transportation staff] can resolve issues and service their end customers,” says G.P. Singh, founder and CEO of ByteCurve. “This is true for small or large districts. In large districts, they may have too many routes and buses to manage on a daily basis, and in small districts they may run [short on] staff and every person wears multiple hats.”
With a daily dispatch function, ByteCurve 360 provides dispatchers access to real-time alerts for bus departure and arrival times.
The system can set employee schedules based on data extracted from routing systems and drivers can clock in and out upon starting or completing routes using the system’s timeclock. For example, if a driver is running late, ByteCurve 360 will automatically notify dispatch.
Once routes are complete, each driver’s hours are then analyzed by a complex guarantee/overtime algorithm to calculate their total wages.
T.J. Crockett, a transportation supervisor for Reynolds School District in Fairview, Ore., says his district is currently testing out the time and attendance features of ByteCurve 360 with about a quarter of its bus drivers. The district initially implemented the software in August 2019 to integrate with its routing provider.
Crockett says that once ByteCurve 360 is integrated with the district’s routing solution, then it will proceed with a full rollout of the time and attendance features, possibly by the 2020-21 school year.
Reynolds School District previously used a paper-based system to calculate the total driving hours for all 87 of its drivers.
Viewfinder to Deliver Customizable Data Dashboard
With Viewfinder, transportation operators can monitor day-to-day operations through customizable reports.
Operators can use the Viewfinder dashboard to create detailed reports for tracking transportation data, such as driver assignments and productivity, route completion, vehicles on the road, student ridership, field trip approvals, and percentage of buses filled.
“We felt that the user experience has to be in such a way that’s customizable,” says Antonio Civitella, president and CEO of Transfinder.
One common use case, he says, is transportation supervisors can use Viewfinder to set up daily or weekly route sheet reports that can be sent to drivers for timekeeping purposes.
He also says the solution allows leadership personnel to track how well drivers are servicing stops, driver behaviors such as hard braking, and any missed bus stops.
“You can get a report to find out all of the stops that were missed for a single day, or you can look at the stops that were early or too late,” Civitella adds. “In other words, if you find a stop that is continuously missed by a driver, you can then use that data to make changes to your planned vs. actual.”
Tyler Drive Tablet for Timekeeping, Field Trips
The Tyler Drive on-board tablet provides timekeeping functionality for transportation personnel, according to Ted Thien, vice president and general manager of Tyler Technologies.
Through the Tyler Drive tablet, administrators can set up various pay codes, including those for drivers and aides, field trips, and training times, to record daily and weekly work hours. Missed or late time punches, Thien adds, can also be adjusted through the platform.
Users can enter custom pay rates for drivers through the routing software — both the Versatrans and Traversa suites — and utilize that data in various reporting and analytical areas of the Tyler Drive system.
The system’s integration with Tyler’s payroll solution, ExecuTime, is currently in development for release in late 2020, according to Thien. ExecuTime manages payroll processing, time tracking, driver minimums and benefits accrual tracking, and integrates with school finance solutions.
Additionally, Tyler’s field trip software gives users the ability to create customized driver “picklists” based on seniority, date of last trip refusal, and availability. This driver selection process for field trips, Thien adds, provides a list of filtered drivers, simplifying the driver assignment process.