A look at how Synovia’s app can improve the bus riding experience.
Many school districts experience painful budget cuts when it comes to transportation. They are forced to cut both routes and drivers, yet they are expected to pick up the same number of students. With hundreds or even thousands of students, this is no easy task. Often stops must be moved to less convenient locations. Families who in the past had door-to-door bus stops are now required to wait on a corner, blocks from home. This means children who once could stay inside until seeing the bus are now forced to wait outside for long periods of time to ensure they do not miss their bus. This situation is far from ideal for both schools and families.
As you can imagine, a situation like this usually results in very unhappy parents. They make complaints at school board meetings, and many calls to the transportation department. The school needs to stand firm, but also needs to realize they are providing less service to their customers (that is, parents and students) than before. What can a school do?
The GPS Solution
To answer this problem, many school boards have decided to pursue a GPS solution. There are many options available to schools when it comes to GPS tracking, but one feature stands out among the rest – and it belongs to Synovia’s Here Comes the Bus app. Here Comes the Bus provides excellent customer service for schools and their students. With this app, parents are able to find the real-time location of their child’s bus, and they can receive push and email alerts when a bus is near or has been substituted. Additionally, parents can get notifications when their child gets on or off the bus, meaning no more worrying whether they’ve made it to school or back home safely. Providing families with this type of access is a great way to solve the problems that result from transportation budget cuts.
Making GPS a Success
The rollout of an app like Here Comes the Bus is critical. In a district with hundreds or thousands of students, you need a large percentage of families signed up in order to realize the full benefits of the solution. What is the key to rollout success? Simply put, it’s communication. Schools must work very hard to ensure the messaging resonates with parents and students alike. Often school districts create posters, flyers, and pamphlets that explain the benefits and provide step-by-step instructions for how to use the app. These materials should then become part of every registration package that goes out.
Another idea is to visit with parents of new kindergarteners to introduce the app. Schools often hold a meeting for these new students, and it provides yet another chance to answer questions and walk parents through set-up on the spot. Additionally, if a parent calls the transportation department with an issue or question, schools can take the opportunity to sign them up right then and explain how Here Comes the Bus prevents the same issue from happening in the future.
Don’t Just Communicate – Over-communicate
Communication can’t be a one-time event, though. One of the biggest mistakes schools can make is assuming that “if you build it, they will come.” Just because the information is made available, that doesn’t mean parents and students will read it. Instead, schools should plan on overcommunicating with the district. Each year, and all year round, provide materials explaining the system. Don’t just include them in the registration information and assume parents and students have what they need. This is especially important if the school system has a transient population. In many districts, hundreds of students come and go throughout the year, which makes the constant flow of information even more critical to get the most out of the app. Essentially, the more schools get the messaging out, the better.
More Facts. Fewer Complaints.
Ultimately, school districts should think of Here Comes the Bus as a service that they can provide to their customers. And when implementing both GPS and Here Comes the Bus, schools usually experience great changes. Information becomes all factual. For example, if a school receives a call saying the bus didn’t show up, the GPS information can be pulled up to see what happened and the schools can have the conversation based on data. This visibility, combined with the service provided by an app like Here Comes the Bus, helps create a great relationship with parents. It also means fewer calls and complaints, and a happier district all around.
To learn more about Here Comes the Bus, and other Synovia solutions, download your free copy of our magazine, Ridealong with Synovia Solutions. We'll help you stay on top of the latest fleet management trends, and decide what's right for your district.