5 Steps To Take Before Optimizing Your School's Bus Routes
published on January 24, 2014 by Sonia Mastros
Even when software is easy to use, it's only as useful as the data that goes into it. So, to get the most out of BusBoss, or any bus route optimization software program, a certain amount of preparation will go a long way.
You shouldn't rush into a major job like redefining individual school attendance boundaries. Even though it's possible to receive better routes with minimal preparation, the best results come to those who take their time in the beginning.
So, from our extensive experience in helping schools implement improved bus scheduling, we've compiled a list of the top five things you can do to ensure your next bus schedule optimization is a total success!
Pre-Planning Your Bus Route Optimizations: Five Areas To Address
I. Designate A Transportation Coordinator
Many districts already have a designated Transportation Coordinator, or similar position with responsibilities specifically geared around their transportation needs. If your distract lacks such a person, such as simply having office staff handle bus issues as they arise, creating the position will head off a large number of personnel problems.
One of the key aspects that makes bus and student scheduling software so powerful is that virtually everything can be controlled by a single user, at a single workstation. By specifically delegating the authority this creates, you're creating a management solution that streamlines changes and implementation.
II. Audit And Verify Your Student Data
This is the single most crucial element for ensuring your route optimization software does its' job correctly. The student records it receives must be accurate, or else flawed student records will inevitably lead to flawed stop locations.
A computer cannot prevent bad data from producing bad results.
Therefore, before making any major changes to your bus schedules, we strongly recommend a full audit of your student data, regardless of the form it currently takes. Ensuring you have updated addresses and contact information is essential, especially for special-needs students with sensitive transportation requests.
(If this is your first time optimizing, Orbit Software can also help with the data conversion. Contact us for details!)
III. Ensure Your Maps Are Up-To-Date
Mapping software systems often have fairly long delays between new map releases, even though roads are changing constantly. So if it's been more than six months since you last updated your maps, there's a strong chance you're overlooking changes in the local road system that could help optimize your bus routing.
If you're already using BusBoss, the process is simple: A Microsoft Paint-style interface allows you to quickly add roads to your maps yourself, meaning the routing software can instantly utilize any changes to the road system whenever you make them.
If you're not using BusBoss, you'll probably want to contact your software vendor to find out how to update your maps and how much it costs. Even if you're still using a vendor that charges for maps, the fee is virtually always lower than your potential cost savings.
IV. Compile Your Current Budget Numbers
While not strictly necessary for a successful software implementation and optimization, having your budget numbers compiled will pay off in six months or a year when you're asked to justify the changes and expenditures to your Principal, Superintendent, or School Board.
It's going to happen sooner or later.
Creating a report with a total overview of your current transportation and student expenditures gives you a perfect benchmark for tracking your future improvements and budget savings . Following these improvements from the beginning gives you an instant resource for demonstrating your software's ROI, as well as creating a starting point for discussions of future upgrades.
V. Look To The Future
Speaking of the future, keep it in mind when you're dealing with your transportation software and bus route optimization. Does your district have plans for expansion, or is there a redistricting in the air? Are you interested in investing in further optimization technologies, such as adding GPS or RFID tracking?
Future-focused planning in your bus route optimization can pay off in numerous ways, from routing your buses around areas that may become hazardous, to establishing routes intended to be expanded in the future. Robust route optimization software allows for these hypothetical scenarios, making it simple to plan for upcoming changes.
It may be worth a chat with someone who can explain what's on the horizon. Anything that helps you create more accurate maps will ultimately pay off for your district.
Superior Planning Brings Superior Results
A good bus route optimization system can deliver near-instantaneous cost savings, in some cases up to 20% or more of a district's transportation budget. Proper care and consideration at the start will help ensure your district sees the greatest benefits, while experiencing the fewest troubles during transition and rollout.
Or for a free consultation, please just tell us what your district needs to succeed!