Multi-district — Kenowa Hills is helping families stay more informed about their students’ bus routes through a new geotracking application, My Ride 360.
Powered by Traversa, the app uses in-vehicle GPS geolocation to provide parents and students with real-time information and updates on bus stop locations, transportation routes and pick-up times.
Families can register their students online using their school ID numbers.
Almost two years ago, the district began using Traversa’s bus routing software internally. John Gilchrist, director of finance and support staff, said the district wanted to continue their investment in bus routing technology with the app.
“I think that many school districts stick to traditional pen and paper methods for their transportation operations,” he said. “Now that we have the app up and running, we can extend the information from our database and push it out directly to parents.”
Forest Hills Public Schools also uses the app.
Gilchrist said the app will help speed up communication between the transportation department and district families.
Transportation Director Paula Neuman explained that when parents and guardians log into the app with their students’ information, they will have access to which building the students will be riding the bus to and from, the route and its schedule.
“If anything changes throughout the day, families can look at the app anytime and that information will update immediately,” Neuman said.
The app also contains school and bus driver contact information, as well as the student’s contacts for drivers to reach families if needed.
When a bus is running late, Gilchrist said, the transportation department gets a flurry of calls. “Hopefully, the app reduces the need to call the office to find out where the bus is.”
Providing Peace of Mind
Grand Rapids Public Schools, which contracts with Dean Transportation for busing, began using two geotracking programs in 2022.
GRPS parent Seth Moore’s daughter attends C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy Elementary. The family used Z Pass Plus when their daughter was in preschool, and now use Here Comes the Bus.
Moore said their experience with Here Comes the Bus has been excellent and they plan to continue to use it.
“I love advancements in technology that make my life a little bit more convenient,” he said. “Being able to track the bus is helpful. It’s not without errors; there’s certainly been problems from time to time, but they do have a dedicated support team.”
Moore also said the app offers notifications when students enter a certain radius of pick-up and drop-off points.
“Z Pass Plus was helpful too,” Moore said. “It was very accurate in knowing where she was, as long as the pass was physically attached to her backpack.”
He said the apps provide peace of mind for parents like himself and are easy to use, even for people who aren’t as comfortable with technology.
“It’s very, very intuitive,” Moore said. “I was able to walk my mother-in-law through downloading the application and … using it while she was babysitting for us one day.”
Reporter Riley Kelley contributed to this story