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Are Your School Bus Routes Optimized?
Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Concerning Route Optimization

As with almost any operation these days, your school district is likely looking to cut back on spending. They are looking to you for ways to reduce the costs associated with transportation management.

If you’ve been mapping out your school bus routes manually, there’s no doubt you struggle with creating truly efficient routes and schedules. In fact, you probably spend too much of your time attempting to compare the data of disparate documents, unsure if the information you are looking at is even accurate or up-to-date.

This is no way to go about school bus route optimization.

To truly save money (which, in turn, often saves a teacher’s salary or an important school program), you have to understand the areas where your school bus routing is lacking in efficiency.

To determine if your school bus routes are optimized, ask yourself the following five questions:

1) Do you know where your school buses are?

As far as manual bus routing methods are concerned, it’s nearly impossible to know exactly where your buses are at any given time. Without insight into where your buses are, you never know precisely what roads your buses travel, in which order they pick up students or when they are idling too long and wasting precious fuel.

If you don’t know the whereabouts of your school bus fleet at all times, it’s far more complicated to truly optimize your school bus routes for student safety, efficiency or critical cost savings.

Total route optimization, however, is easy to achieve with the right technology. The right school bus routing software should feature an alert system and vehicle tracking integration so you may monitor, in real time, bus locations, idle times, route deviations and driver performance.

While school bus routing software allows you to analyze data and optimize your bus routes, it also provides your district with a system of checks and balances for complete accountability when an issue occurs. Whether the issue is a student being dropped off at the wrong location, or a bus showing up 15 minutes late to a stop, with routing software you have easy access to an answer every single time.

2) How are your bus stops created?

Many factors go into the decision-making process when you create optimal school bus stops:

  • Are you utilizing minimum walk-to-stop distances?
  • Could you create more group stops as opposed to house stops?
  • Could you combine group stops?
  • Do you only have group bus stops or are they all house stops?
  • What are the realities of your community’s road system and topography?

Manually balancing all of the above conditions to create bus stops for the school year takes many, many months. And, by the time you’ve finalized your bus routes and stops, it’s likely that certain critical information has changed. With disparate data systems, there’s no way to ensure your data is up-to-date and accurate.

Transportation management software offers an efficient means for bus route optimization by marrying together your disparate data into one system. With a software platform, you gain high-level visibility.

When you have real-time access to routing and student information, you may analyze stop locations based on criteria such as current enrollment, road restrictions, boundaries, rider eligibility and student walk-to-stop distances.

3) How do you determine rider eligibility?

Rider eligibility depends on a few factors, namely where your community resides and the location of students within that community. There are likely children who don’t need door-to-door transportation; however, this mandate is typically determined based on student grade level, the type of street they live on and the distance between a student’s residence and school.

How does your school district determine rider eligibility? Is it possible you’re picking up students who could potentially be classified as walkers?

Display maps are a great resource for fully understanding school boundaries and establishing walker versus rider zones. School bus routing software’s graphic map displays also aid in determining how to minimize walk-to-stop distances. Creating parameters for rider eligibility is a route optimizer method to reduce the number of bus stops, riders and fuel usage.

4) Do you tier your bus routes?

Tiered bus routes are safer and more efficient for your students, and may also provide a cost-savings alternative to your current system. However, in order to create a tiered bus schedule, you need transportation management software to effectively determine bus routes and bell times.

To establish a tiered bus schedule system, you must be able to create separate routes for elementary, middle and high school students, which is typically based on the opening and closing of schools for all levels. It’s possible that you may have to reexamine bell schedules to accommodate a tiered bus schedule.

5) Are your bus routes underutilized?

Another key factor in school bus route optimization is ensuring you aren’t underutilizing your individual buses and bus routes. Here are some further questions to help you understand if your bus routing investment is being misspent:

  • Do you fill your buses to capacity?
  • Do you ever combine certain routes to fill up more seats on the bus?
  • Is it possible to make the students ride a bit longer to achieve the above?
  • Do you ever combine certain routes to eliminate the need for a bus?
  • Do use different size buses, such as bigger buses to fit more kids?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, it’s likely your buses and bus routes are underutilized. School bus routing software helps you identify where any of the above inefficiencies exist.

By creating hypothetical bus routes, you may analyze bus capacities, students per seat and maximum travel times to generate optimized routes and eliminate any area where inefficiencies may exist.

If you want to reduce your budget instead of wasting money on manual routing inefficiencies, it’s time to adopt school bus routing software to bring all of your separate information onto one platform.

With a comprehensive platform for your transportation management, you may easily update, analyze and adapt your school bus routes to maintain optimized routes and scheduling. When you have total control over your routes and scheduling, in real time, you are able to cut back on spending and save money for your school district.

Ready to optimize your bus routes with transportation management software? Click here to schedule a no-cost consultation: 10 Free Bus Route Optimization Tips In 10 Minutes. You may also call 484-941-0820 to speak directly with a BusBoss student transportation expert.

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