Efficient school bus route planning is a complicated exercise and relies heavily on accurate data and information. As evidenced by this article by Park and Kim, there is a wide array of challenges in the bus routes planner process. The challenges in creating a bus plan include resource management, route planning efficiency, numerous adjustments, school children’s safety, and the assurance that children will both get to school and back home in time. All this is without mentioning the will to reduce operational costs of the trip and increase savings.
Even schools or transport providers with an established system need to review logistics and risk assessments, at least every year. Children move and leave school, while others join, and courses may change. A review ensures a system that finds the best balance between service delivery and proper management of resources. Transporting children to and from school in a vehicle is not a primary task and not one that will always run correctly. But there are solutions in bus route planning that can significantly improve the cost and safety aspects involved in these bus trips.
To understand this better, we propose the following contents:
Table of Contents
Three Crucial Factors of School Transportation Management
Safety of children
When a school agrees to transport children using a bus or any other vehicle, it enters a severe liability. Indemnity agreement or not, the loss of children’s lives is something no school management wants on their hands. Apart from adequately screening drivers for experience and safety records, there are several other aspects at play.
The safety of children is one of the most basic factors of bus schedules. It is crucial to carefully consider the distance children have to walk to and from the bus stop and safety at these stops. To do so, one must establish how many children are in a given area. A location for the best and the safest bus stop for everyone involved needs to be located.
Where applicable, driving directions need to be assessed for safety, so children have the least exposure to dangerous situations or locations and reach their destination safely.
Best Use of Financial Resources
Running a school transportation service or even a public transport bus service is no cheap task. Margins for cost can range between $60 000 to $100 000 per bus, and a slight improvement or glitch in running them can cause a significant cost implication in either direction. Every slight increase made in bus route planning, therefore, can result in much-needed savings.
The objective is to get busses running most productively while considering staff, fuel, and maintenance costs. Running with low ridership or too few occupied seats means there is a higher expense. When a school district operates this way, the vehicle will be overused. Too many passengers and the effect is an extra trip, at the expense of resources and time management.
Then there is the issue of busses running on roundabout trip planning, which wastes fuel and time. The traveling distance of the bus with no passengers also needs to be restricted as much as possible. These issues are the same as city transit. They also have to create trip schedules, determine fares, transfers, and build timetables. All these issues mean an increase in costs. Proper route planning is one of the ways to increase the use of financial resources.
Time and Efficiency
For school transportation service or to plan a bus route for school, time is a crucial element. There are issues with early or late children pick-ups. These issues in service delivery affect parents and school faculty alike. Pick-up and drop-off times need to be consistent and reliable. Disruption in the system is not an option. Parents have their set routines, and education needs to run as usual.
Challenges in planning a bus route for school include road congestion at different times of the day, the driver’s reliability, and the size of service areas and distances to school. Buses in metro areas are also facing similar issues. More and more, transit companies are looking at map data and programs to make changes to improve service delivery. Examples are the following: linking to more stations, trains, train location, line cars, creating alerts for the spread of Metrobus information, and special provisions for seniors and riders.
With a good trip planner, this challenge can be tackled by creating efficient schedules for every vehicle & to reach their locations on time.
How Route Planning Can Address These Challenges
It becomes clear that proper planning is the best solution when we look at all the variables involved in a bus trip plan. Let’s look at how planning can improve the success of school transportation service logistics.
A list of students needing transport and their addresses is the first set of data required in structuring logistical factors. Viewing student addresses on maps will reveal subdistricts and scholar density, simplifying assigning amounts of busses or sizes to specific areas. Knowing this information allows the refining of staffing logistics.
Narrowing the logistics can also help improve safety. Reviewing the address location of each child and the safest way for each can help pinpoint pick-up points. Crucial factors include the number of times a student will need to cross the roads and adequately safe waiting areas for stops. This can be done effectively through an app.
A bus stop location needs to be assigned not only by safety aspects. These need to be compared with distances to school for the efficiency of time and resource management.
Once pick-up points are established, a ride can be evaluated for congestion and efficacy. The objective here is to eliminate unnecessary deviations and find the best course or times to combat road congestion. It is helpful if there is enough service information provided to the users.
There should also be a text translation feature as well. Translation features help users in various parts of the world. It should start with a select language feature. The original text should be mentioned along with a better translation. Users will not have to resort to Google Translate. Having to go to Google translate only makes the process tedious.
Most Cost-Efficient Route Planning Options
A mapping system is a must for addressing the challenges of school transport logistics. The size of the school and district will determine the level of sophistication needed in your system!
Smaller areas might be able to get away with a free app. Google Maps can provide adequate data for smaller users to find the best routing possible. These areas can use less robust solutions as they have fewer students. For most areas, there would be a need to focus on purchasing route planning software. There are many great options online, depending on your circumstances, and if you’re a private company, your customers’ needs. Also, larger school districts or transit operators will likely want to look into fleet management software. This software type allows tracking the lifecycle of vehicles, track mileage, downtime, offers service alerts, and much more.
A lot of these fleet management software offers GPS, geofencing, real-time driver notifications, driver apps, that can mark each stop as done.
While planning a bus route, one must identify the exact location or address that will constitute the direction and the location of the stop. This location, or bus stops, can then be plotted on maps using a specialized trip planner app to that effect. The trip planner app will schedule the trip, show the travel time, the street view, and other useful features such as language support with a better translation for a bus search and the best way to reach the location.
The short answer is that there is no exact answer. The best trip planner app depends on the needs of the user. A simple software suffices when there are one vehicle and a limited number of stops and schedule information. A more sophisticated solution is required whenever the requirements increase, such as the number of vehicles, drivers, and stops. There will be more timetables, and it will require proper management. But it always helps to have functional web software along with an app for a good website experience.
Enhance Your School Transport Management System
We hope that this article gives people more info on this topic. We know that orchestrating bus lines is a difficult exercise, so we are doing what we can to support you. There will be more blogs to help you understand these topics in detail. We are always open to any questions, comments, or feedback that you may have. Happy planning!