BusRight & Pocatello Team

BusRight & Pocatello Team

In the sprawling landscape of education technology, one area often overlooked is the school bus. Despite school buses being the largest mass transit system in the country, and critical infrastructure that is the backbone of our nation’s economy and K12 system, the industry looks very similar to when the first school bus hit the road in the 1800s. Transportation Directors and their teams are responsible for ensuring that 26M students access their education daily. This is becoming more challenging in an era of increasing route complexity, overwhelming parent demands, and a crippling driver shortage. Across the country, Transportation Directors at school districts are practically running complex logistics businesses in the basement of their school – and rely on paper maps, excel, or antiquated technology to mobilize our most precious cargo.

However, some districts are championing a safer and more efficient future for their communities. Nestled in the heart of Idaho, Pocatello-Chubbuck School District 25, the 6th largest district in the State, is pioneering a revolution on wheels. With a strategic embrace of cutting-edge routing, GPS, driver navigation, and parent communication technology, they're not just transporting students but ensuring a safer, more efficient journey to and from school. Let's delve into how Pocatello leveraged innovation to transform its bus operation.

A few years ago, the notion of tablets on school buses seemed improbable, if not illegal. However, policymakers recognized the safety benefits of tablets with turn-by-turn navigation and live GPS over traditional paper route sheets, which are often outdated, inefficient, and hard to read at 6 am when it’s pitch black out. Furthermore, ensuring reliable technology is paramount in states like Idaho, where extreme weather and temperature conditions are the norm. Enter military-grade, rugged tablets that power BusRight’s cutting-edge school bus driver navigation – a game-changer for Pocatello and other districts facing similar challenges.

"Unlike other navigation systems, BusRight’s driver app only routes drivers down roads that are safe for school buses – roads that don’t have weight limits, overpasses, and more,” remarks Samantha Steed, Transportation Supervisor. "These tablets aren't just technology; they're lifelines, providing critical information in real-time to ensure the safety of everyone on board.”

John Mayne, one of Pocatello’s drivers added, "As a substitute driver you can be dispatched on any route at the last minute. The route can be quickly pushed out to the tablet and guide you through every turn without being distracted reading paper route sheets and searching for street signs, landmarks, and addresses. The process makes locating stops easy, even in the dark or in unfamiliar areas. This allows drivers to eliminate missed stops, locate students quickly, and remain on schedule to transport them safely to and from school."

Image Courtesy of Keith Corso, Co-founder & CEO at BusRight

Image Courtesy of Keith Corso, Co-founder & CEO at BusRight

The journey towards technological integration had its challenges. Finding a reliable technology partner was essential, one capable of evolving alongside the district's needs and having experience migrating from pen and paper to a fully digitized and augmented bus operation. Pocatello's feedback played a pivotal role in driving advancements in routing and navigation technology. This ensured functionality even in parts of their community with low GPS signals or internet connectivity, which are common challenges in Idaho's rugged terrain.

“Their customer service has not only set the benchmark for companies providing services to school transportation departments, it is a model of service all businesses should follow. The BusRight team values their customers and delivers on promises with the highest levels of commitment,” remarks Jeff Corrington, Transportation Supervisor. "Partnering with a company like BusRight that listens to our needs has been invaluable," adds Kelly Dial, Transportation Coordinator. 

But technology is more than just hardware and software – it's about community cohesion. Pocatello's embrace of innovation has brought stakeholders together, from transportation and business offices to state directors, drivers, and parents.

“BusRight has been a valuable tool for me as an administrator and as a parent. Knowing where our students are moment to moment in their routes brings peace of mind and is the information we use in case we need to make adjustments to our schedules. BusRight is easy to use, and parents love being able to track routes on their smartphones. Keeping parents in the loop provides transparency and improves our relationships with families,” shares Dr. Wilson, a principal and parent in the district.

Image Courtesy of Donovan Griffin, Founder & CEO at Better Films USA

Image Courtesy of Donovan Griffin, Founder & CEO at Better Films USA

The transition from pen and paper to a near fully digitized and augmented operation was a monumental shift for Pocatello. Yet, it was a necessary one, driven by a desire to reduce administrative burden, improve route efficiency, and enhance communication.

"Digitizing our operation was a game-changer," reflects Samantha Steed. "We were able to streamline processes, reduce human error, and ultimately, focus more on what matters – the safety and well-being of our students."

Moreover, technology's benefits extend beyond operational efficiency. Cost/time savings emerged as a significant advantage, whether through reduced parent phone calls, optimized route planning, or accelerated driver learning facilitated by tablets. Idaho’s Department of Education has recognized these benefits and is supporting schools in their digital transformation, as Ali Stolzman, Idaho’s State Director of Student Transportation shares. “I'm excited to see Idaho schools embracing technology that’s helping modernize student transportation and providing our communities with safer, smarter, and more reliable services than ever. We at the Department of Education are committed to helping our schools deploy these new technologies as a means of ensuring the safest and most efficient transportation for our students.”

Innovation on Wheels isn't just a slogan for Pocatello-Chubbuck School District 25, it's a testament to its commitment to student safety and operational excellence. By embracing technology, the district has not only upgraded its bus operations but also fostered a stronger, more resilient community that recognizes that the big yellow bus is so much more than just a means of transportation. As other districts across the country look to modernize their transportation systems, Pocatello stands as a beacon of inspiration, showcasing the transformative power of innovation.