Today’s transportation logistics software can completely transform the complex task of school bus routing from the time-consuming manual process to a smooth operation accounting for the myriad variables that transportation departments face, from multiple addresses for one student to transfer locations, driver callouts, safety issues, and breakdowns.
According to some industry figures, routing software save a district up to 30% in transportation department costs by improving efficiencies and reducing errors.
The wide array of available transportation logistics software can become a school district’s ultimate route-scheduling tool to manipulate, update and manage route-planning, optimization, exceptions, bus and student tracking, vehicle maintenance and more quickly and easily. Some new routing software offers cloud- or web-based systems with mobile applications and real-time data tracking.
Determining which software solution is best for individual fleets among the lineup of today’s providers can require some research.
Kim Martin, industry engagement consultant for Tyler Technologies, believes routing software must be “vendor‐agnostic,” capable of working with virtually any system that can send or receive data in a flat file. “An even better solution,” she recommends, “is a single company servicing multifaceted needs.”
For example, Martin points out, if a feature of the telematic hardware does not sync with the routing system, and the separate hardware and software vendors cannot agree on a solution, “the transportation manager is the one who ends up in the middle with the problem unsolved. When both systems are provided by a single company, clients need only make one call for support.”
Lynx’s Joe Canepa suggests that school bus fleet managers consider the following when deciding on the best software product for their individual needs. Does the system:
- Integrate the student information system?
- Create a complete routing system from scratch?
- Have a robust tech support policy?
- Allow staff access to information from home or on a smartphone?
- Offer a fleet maintenance module?
- Provide a staff web interface for field trip tickets?
Other factors to keep in mind, says Canepa, are ease of learning the system, costs of an accurate map data tool, and benefits of a student and bus location tracking capability. Will the school district or the software provider host the system; if the latter, does the company comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)?
Finally, Canepa advises, determine the initial startup expense and annual costs after the first year and after five years.
The following provides an overview of 10 routing software products now available to school bus fleet managers:
The BusBoss suite of routing software tools includes Route Fleet Optimization to automatically generate best routes with selected criteria for individual schools or combined schools. The Auto-Create Stop Locations function automatically determines optimal stop sites for all students, and with the SmartRoute Dashboard’s personalize real-time interface provides real-time data to easily manage daily operations and plan routes.
BusPlanner offers a full suite of intuitive tools to plan, analyze and optimize route planning. The analytics and management tools help measure the program’s effectiveness. A comprehensive array of optimization programs, using BusPlanner’s patented AI-based technologies, is available to help achieve further cost savings. The BusBoss staff converts and pre-loads all essential routing data for immediate program implementation.
Edulog offers a cloud-based routing management solution designed for school districts of any size, from as few as 57 to as many as 1.5 million students. The integrated suite of route management, planning, reporting, telematics, and parent portal features intuitive, easy-to-use workspaces customized for each user and role. Managers can quickly act on changing circumstances and pinpoint bus activities at all times.
A one-stop shop, Lynx provides all the software a transportation department typically need, with customer-acclaimed tech support. The Lynx core application provides customized route management and consolidation, boundary planning, vehicle maintenance, live weather and traffic flow overlays, field trips, editable route maps, rider management. With Lynx’s FastTrack Data, managers can upload new data quickly and easily.
With SafeFleet’s web-based transportation management tools, managers simply log in from any web browser to plan routes track vehicles and students or monitor a video surveillance system in real time. The routing system features easy two-step route building, automatic route optimization and student assignment, calendar-based route visibility, what-if scenario planning, logged route history and audit trail, web-based parent portal and turn-by-turn route directions.
Based on routing software from US Computing Inc., Samsara’s, vMax Compass provides an all-in-one, web-based solution for school transportation management. vMax Compass offers tight integration with routing, vehicle tracking, student tracking, and vehicle data status, such as stop arm deployment, DVR Health-Check, and panic alarms from any Internet connected device. Real-time GPS tracking offers detailed reports for better route planning and driver dispatch.
With just a quick import of student data and configuring a few simple parameters, School Bus Manager users can build efficient bus routes and trips in minutes with turn-by-turn directions and accurate stop times. Routes can be optimized or modified in seconds. The simple and intuitive system is designed for all skill levels. Web-based, the software requires no installation and is fully compatible with any PC, MAC or tablet connected to the Internet.
The new Routefinder Plus 2.0 offers program features and enhancements for easy-to-use, full-featured and fast browser-based transportation for safe, smart route management with use of AIO School Bus Route optimization. This latest RouteFinder Plus version includes improvements such as student schedule exceptions created from Schedule Grid or Routing Palette, better auto data import, email/mail merge enhancement, map editing capabilities, and Formfinder interface.
Tyler Technologies' Traversa is an end-to-end transportation management software, with the Tyler Drive on‐board tablet, offering one system and database to route and track vehicles while also capturing parts, work orders, labor, and overall vehicle maintenance costs. Traversa is powerful and flexible enough to manage each street, stop and student individually. Routes are built from the ground up to reflect and manage the real world of student transportation.
TripSpark VEO Transportation software has been specifically designed to address the complexities of the modern school transportation environment. The program’s thin-client solution provides flexibility and proactive routing to respond to the changing needs of regular and special needs transport. The heart of TripSpark’s school bus routing and scheduling software is the multiterm, fully integrated, calendar-based functionality.