Bus Tracking for School Districts with 1,000 Busses

Raveon recently deployed a real-time GPS tracking solution for more than 1,000 buses of one school district in the Bluegrass region. Base stations with two terminal servers connected through Raveon’s Cigorn gateway were installed along with rooftop antennas on 22 high-schools which allow for GPS radio coverage within the entire school district.

school bus gps tracking system

In the past, parent complaints of missed pick-ups required a cumbersome and time intensive research process. School officials are now able to easily confirm if a bus operator took the wrong route or the pick up time was missed without fault of the driver. On the very first day of operations, the new bus tracking solution showed that the buses indeed stopped at the correct location, at the right time, proving that in fact, two out of three students had not been at the location on time, despite the parents’ complaint. In one case, a bus supervisor was able to identify that the bus operator had indeed taken the wrong route.

In addition to location information, Raveon’s GPS transponder is tracking the activity of the buses’ stop arm sign, amber and red lights in correlation to the time and the location of the vehicle.

“In the past it has been the parent’s word against the bus driver’s word, and now we can immediately get to the bottom of issues.  We also feel there have been fewer speeding complaints because drivers are aware that we can view their speed for any given GPS report.” says Brent West, GIS Specialist Transportation Services of the C.B. Young Service Center.
Aside from these unique features, Raveon’s GPS tracking radios, together with the RavTrack PC software or – as in this case – a compatible third party solution (COMPASS by U.S. Computing) provides every functionality a school district would need to efficiently manage their bus system, including:While cellular based tracking solutions are widely available, they do not always cover remote pick-up locations, and cell coverage can fail entirely in disaster situations such as fires and floods when a large number of subscriber is trying to connect to the same cell towers. Since the RavTrack GPS solutions works on a radio frequency specifically assigned to the operator, the school district does not have to worry about these types of coverage deficiencies. When it was discovered that some areas initially received poor radio coverage, two more base station sites were deployed in under a day, which solved the problem.

  • Route Optimization
  • Ability to route stops, students or entire runs based on date ranges and days of the week
  • Easy dissemination of boundary information to the public
  • Saving District time and money by cutting down on boundary inquiry phone calls
  • Displaying school information, such as principals, bell times, & address in the user interface
  • Displaying additional information layers, such as Trustee Zones.
  • Switching from street view to high resolution aerials included at no extra cost
  • Parents can find the closest bus stop to their home that services their child’s school
  • Esri World Standard for easy cross-platform integration

Cellular based solution require costly subscription services in addition to the one-time equipment and installation fees (in this case, annual service fees would have easily exceeded $250,000 per year). Maintenance costs for Raveon’s radio-based GPS tracking solutions, in contrast, represent only a small fraction of these costs.

Further more, as Brent West states: “We expect to realize significant savings through the reduction of extra pay sheets, as we proved during our GPS pilot.  In the past, after drivers made the last bus stop, extra time sheets for traffic, accidents, etc. were turned in based on the honor system, and now that we have GPS data, we know there will be a reduction in extra pay sheets.”