The Norristown (Pa.) Area School District is one of the first districts to use First Student vans.

The Norristown (Pa.) Area School District is one of the first districts to use First Student vans.

Photo courtesy First Student

School bus company First Student has launched a van service for more efficient and flexible customization of routes for students who have special needs, are experiencing homelessness, or live in remote locations.

The Norristown (Pa.) Area School District is one of the first school districts to use First Student vans, according to a news release from the school bus company.

First Student worked with the district to consolidate transportation routes and eliminate the need for multiple contractors. First Student is operating, maintaining, and managing more than 80 vans for the district.

“By partnering with First Student, we have been able to streamline our transportation services and provide more consistency for families,” said Norristown Area School District Superintendent Christopher Dormer. “Vans combine a personalized experience, which is ideal for students with unique needs, with all the peace of mind First Student delivers as the recognized experts in student transportation.”

First Student van drivers meet the same hiring requirements as the company’s school bus drivers and receive extensive special-needs training with classroom, hands-on, and in-the-van instruction, according to First Student.

“Providing safe and reliable transportation offers all students the chance to succeed,” said Claire Miller, First Student senior vice president of strategy, business development, marketing, and communications. “First Student has long been on the forefront of developing and implementing tailored transportation solutions that make a real difference for school districts and their families. Transporting students with unique needs requires experience, specialized training, and compassion. Our new van service represents a forward-thinking approach to meeting the evolving needs of every student everywhere, ensuring a trusted ride to and from school.”

First Student vans are equipped with three-point seat belts, GPS tracking systems, and interior cameras. School districts also have access to the company’s technology suite, which includes FirstView and First Feedback.

The FirstView District Dashboard and Parent App are designed to help school administrators streamline daily decision-making through centralized, real-time fleet reporting. They can efficiently alert parents about school delays or issues through the secure bus tracking app. First Feedback, a web-based communications tool, collects, addresses, and tracks various comments from parents, school district officials, and the community.

First Student vans are maintained by more than 3,000 technicians certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.