Bus Tracking Apps: Anticipating Parental Needs

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shutterstock_1325384843If your district already utilizes tracking devices to plot your bus's location in real-time, it might be time to open up that service to more people in your community! Schools around the nation are beginning to offer smartphone apps to parents, allowing them to see the location of their child's bus while it's on route.

The value of this is obvious. Many parents are balancing tight schedules and can plan their days more efficiently if they know the bus is running on time. This can be great for parents - if you pick an app with the right features!

4 Must-Have Features in a Bus Tracking App

1. Wide Device Compatibility

You don't want to leave parents out, so the app should support both iOS and Android at a bare minimum. You might even consider a web-based app that can be accessed from any browser so that people on desktops and laptops can get information as well.

2. Security Features

You don't want just anyone seeing the status of your buses. The app you choose should have some level of security that only allows registered parents to log in. Also, parental views should be restricted only to the bus or busses with their children on it. No one outside of the transportation office needs to know the location of every bus.

Parents should, however, have some ability to designate accepted users, such as giving access to grandparents or close family friends.

3. Ease of Use

Whether you license an app from an existing company or have one custom-built, ease of use is the most important factor. Strip out any jargon or terminology that parents aren't going to be familiar with. The app should be as simple as possible, and that should be relatively easy to accomplish. After all, it just needs to display the bus's location and an ETA for the child's arrival.

4. Child Ridership Alerts

If your buses also track ridership through the use of RFID or similar tracking chips, this could potentially be integrated into the app as well. It would be possible to alert parents if the bus leaves without their child on board, or if they disembark at an unusual location. This functionality could easily be integrated into the bus tracking app.

Basically, a bus tracking app is a win-win all around. Parents get more peace of mind and the ability to plan their days more effectively, while districts will see a significant reduction in bus-related calls to the office. As long as the app is well-designed, there's really no downside beyond the initial cost.

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Has your district looked into offering a bus tracking app? How did that work out? Let us know in the comments below!