Find the best School Bus Routing Software
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School bus routing software is a critical tool for a school systems' transportation management program. These systems offer a significant amount of accountability and insight. By monitoring and tracking routes, bus operators can optimize fuel usage and scheduling to make sure students get to school on time.
Many route planning software offerings are packaged as part of greater fleet management tools. These large platforms perform critical tasks outside of routing, including maintenance management, payroll/accounting, and driver management.
We created this buyer's guide to help you understand the school bus routing software market and determine the best system for your needs.
Here's what we'll cover:
What Is School Bus Routing Software?
School bus routing software supports bus schedules and routing decisions. Like most route planning systems, school bus routing software optimizes driver routes to reduce fuel usage. School systems and/or bus management contractors have two primary options to choose from based on the capabilities they need. These two different types of software include:
Stand-alone bus routing. There are plenty of school bus-specific routing software options. These systems are built specifically for managing school bus routes and other adjacent functions. While some school bus-based systems offer other operational features, their core competency is planning pick-up and drop-off routes for buses.
Full fleet management suite. Formal fleet management systems are a great fit for supporting school bus management. These systems offer many capabilities outside of route planning, such as maintenance management, driver scheduling, payroll and accounting and more.
Common Features of School Bus Routing Software
Regardless of which software route you take, make sure the system you choose offers these core features:
Assigns a set schedule to drivers/buses to ensure accountability and consistency.
Provides communication lines between drivers and school administrators where they can discuss any changes to the script, such as unexpected delays or emergencies.
Uses GPS technology so school administrators can always know where a school bus is located. Tracks important details about each vehicle, such as mileage and fuel consumption.
Route planning and optimization
Calculates the most efficient route in real time to account for any delays relative to drop off locations. Provide in-vehicle directions for driver.
Helps administrators, contractors, and drivers instantly communicate about important updates via a mobile app.
Manages and tracks driver schedules. Provides a safe communication channel between drivers, dispatchers and the back office.
Benefits of Bus Routing Systems
School bus routing software provides a number of advantages, including newfound efficiencies and increased safety, productivity, and transparency.Our research shows that telematics capabilities can significantly benefit mobile, fleet-based organizations. GPS tracking systems track valuable information about vehicles. These systems analyze and keep records of this information, establishing performance benchmarks and tracking the achievement of these benchmarks over time.
Revenue-Boosting Benefits of GPS-Enabled Software
The operational benefits of routing systems like these are the same for schools/school systems as they are for for-profit industry fleets.
Optimized scheduling and real-time routing help drivers meet pick-up/drop-off times and get students to and from school safely. And bus drivers spend less time traveling from one stop to the next, meaning they'll save operational costs in the long run with a reduction in fuel costs.
What Type of Buyer Are You?
There are a few primary types of buyers who are looking to adopt school bus routing software. These buyers include:
Individual schools, usually private operations, managing their own bus(es).
A school system comprised of multiple schools whose fleets of buses are all managed by the county or municipality.
School bus management business contracted by municipalities or by private schools.
These different types of buyers have unique needs based on the nature of their operations.
Contract operations are becoming more and more popular as schools increase their outsourcing of bus management operations to them. These third-party firms need full software suites (bundled packages of fleet management applications for the whole business).
The systems these businesses use include bus routing, scheduling, and tracking, but also extend out to driver sourcing and management as well as rating and quote management and vehicle maintenance.
School-managed fleet operations are more concerned with capabilities related to route scheduling, driver communication and GPS tracking.
Market Trends to Understand
Even though you're specifically looking for school bus management software, it's important that you have familiarity with what's going on in the general fleet management market. Specifically, there are new software features that may lower your costs of operation even more:
Efficiency, sustainability and environmentally-aware fleet logistics. As awareness for environmental health continues growing, people are starting to take notice. From a school bus management perspective, current and potential faculty and parents of student (and even students themselves) care more than ever about the carbon footprint of the school's operations.
Your fleet of school buses might be one of the most obvious examples of your school's carbon footprint, so employing routing software to reduce fuel usage can go a long way in impressing environmentally-conscious constituents.
Performance metrics and reporting dashboards. You'll have a hard time finding a fleet management system that doesn't offer reporting and analytics capabilities. Performance data such as the average time between pick-up/drop-off locations or frequency of on-time arrivals can be analyzed to optimize routes and bus schedules. These systems can also measure fuel usage to determine the most fuel-efficient routes.
Mobile devices. All school bus drivers for your fleet should have a mobile device issued to them in case of emergencies. As such, support for mobile devices is increasingly popular in the larger fleet management software market. These apps allow drivers to be in constant communication with dispatcher as well as other drivers.