Students board a San Marcos CSID school bus. PHOTO COURTESY OF SAN MARCOS CISD
New app lets parents track school bus
Some parents in San Marcos CISD have enjoyed the use of a free innovative app that provides them real-time bus location, scheduled and actual arrival times, as well as push alerts and emails so they can get their child to and from school safely and on time, and the service will soon be available to all district families. The Here Comes The Bus® app is the only mobile device app in the U.S. that provides a push alert when the bus is near and is free for the 2016-17 school year in the App Store and Google Play.
“Whether a single-parent or dual-career household, mornings are hectic and sometimes stressful to get everyone ready and out the door to school on time,” said Transportation Director Carter Hutson. “Waiting for a child to come home can be stressful, too. Parents want to know the location of their child’s bus, whether it’s running late, early or on time. Here Comes the Bus gives our parents the information they need, when they need it.”
The San Marcos CISD program was piloted at Bowie Elementary in spring 2016, and was phased into all elementary school and Pre-K routes in fall 2016. The secondary schools should come on board by spring of tjis year.
Through the Here Comes the Bus app, parents can select the alerts they want to receive and how. For instance, they can receive a push notification or email alert when their child’s bus is within five minutes of the bus stop. In addition, the app provides parents a customizable map to quickly locate the bus, track when it arrives at or leaves school, or to see if there’s a bus substitution or schedule change.
“We think this is an essential tool that improves safety at the bus stop and offers a way for us to effectively and efficiently communicate with parents to keep them informed,” added Hutson.
The Here Comes the Bus app is from by Synovia Solutions™. These GPS software solutions work to increase fuel efficiency, improve safety measures and track vehicle location. Since the launch of the app in July 2015, Here Comes the Bus has been adopted by 100 school districts and is used by over 89,000 parents and students across the country.
Here Comes the Bus can be accessed for free during the 2016-17 school year by all parents in SMCISD, by going to the website at www.smcisd.net, and choosing the Transportation Department folder. There are step-by-step instructions given on the page. The app is secure, with the district providing parents a private ID that grants access to only their child’s bus. Here Comes the Bus is available in three languages; users can choose between English, Spanish and French.
It is also more efficient to track which children are getting on and off the buses, as drivers use iPads that scan the students’ barcodes, making sure they are getting on and off the right bus. As safety is a district priority, this aspect is valuable to the community and school district.
The new app lightens the dispatcher’s load too, as there are fewer calls from concerned parents on days that parents run late. In SMCISD, approximately 64 percent of 8,100 students ride the school bus each day.
Comments from parents are generally positive, so far, with examples such as:
“The app gives me the ability to see where my child’s bus is in real-time, giving me a sense of security, and helping me see when I need to meet her at the bus stop.”
“It’s convenient. I can plan my day better, checking on my child’s status on my phone.”
“When weather is a factor, this is a great tool to let me know about changes or delays.”
SMCISD Parent Jennifer Porter says, “As a parent, it is very reassuring to know your child got to school safe. With the Here Comes the Bus app, you are able to track the bus to know where the bus is on its route. Here Comes the Bus allows us to wait until the bus is close to our stop so we don’t have to stand out in inclement weather and gives reassurance knowing my son got to school safely.”
According to the National Association for Pupil Transportation, each year school buses provide an estimate 10 billion student trips in the United States. Every school day, 475,000 school buses transport 25 million children to and from schools and school-related activities.
In SMCISD, the Here Comes the Bus app is making this a smooth ride for students and parents.
For more information, visit these sites: http://herecomesthebus.com and www.smcisd.net.
• Submitted by Iris Campbell/San Marcos CISD