- Enter a bus number.
- Choose the routes/schools that are affected.
- Choose the message (Delay, Substitute Bus, Accident, Emergency, etc.)
- Click the Send Notification button.
In less than fifteen seconds, parents, students and school administrators will start receiving messages. It really is that simple.
Within 30 seconds of you knowing that a bus is going to be late, and in less time than it takes to answer a phone call from one frustrated parent; you can distribute that same information to everyone.
Three different groups of people benefit from Bus Bulletin: (1) the district transportation department, (2) parents and/or students, and (3) school administrators.
Benefits to the Transportation Department
The transportation department benefits from Bus Bulletin because it communicates important information to parents and school administrators. It requires less than 15 seconds to send a notification, saving considerable time spent on the phone with frustrated parents.
Using Bus Bulletin is an excellent public relations opportunity. It shows the taxpayers, the school board, and the community that the transportation office is concerned with pupil transportation safety. Parents appreciate the information it provides them, reducing frustration over late buses and eliminating concern when a bus does not appear as expected.
Bus Bulletin notifies the appropriate schools when a bus transporting students for that school is involved. Instead of spending minutes to make a phone call to the school, the transportation department can send a Bus Bulletin notification that instructs school administrators to load children onto a different bus.
Less time on the phone with frustrated parents and school administrators means that transportation personnel have more time to attend to the job of transporting students.
Benefits to Parents and Students
Waiting for a late bus beside a busy road is an inconvenience for a older students. However, for elementary aged children it can be a safety concern due to traffic. In severe or harsh weather waiting for a late bus can be a safety issue for students of any age.
When parents receive Bus Bulletin notifications, they are given the information they need to make choices that affect the safety of their children as well as their own convenience. If they are informed that a bus is going to be considerably late because of unexpected problems, they can choose to wait with their children, or take them to school themselves. Using the information that Bus Bulletin provides allows parents to have choices that make the difference between being late for work while waiting for a bus, or dropping their children off at school themselves and arriving to work on time.
Benefits to School Administrators
When school officials receive notifications in the morning that a bus will be late delivering students, they can wait to complete their attendance records. This saves time spent revising those attendance records in order to show that a student was not tardy or absent.
In the afternoons, school personnel who are directing children onto buses can know when there is a substitute bus. This information speeds the process of loading the children on the buses, and eliminates confusion.
We’ve spoken with numerous districts who have tried this, and this is a comparison of the issues we have observed after listening to their experiences:
DMS = District Messaging Systems
BBNS = Bus Bulletin Notification System
DMS: It took a considerable amount of IT resources (time and money) to configure the system before it could be used to send transportation-related notifications.
BBNS: It should take less than one hour to collect the data that you send to Bus Bulletin. We can usually have a fully functional implementation up-and-running in 1-3 days.
DMS: The IT department was not quick to respond when updates or changes were needed.
BBNS: You will always have a direct line of support to Bus Bulletin. We answer to you, our customer.
DMS: There was usually only one contact number for a parent, and that was often a home phone that may or may not have been used after a few months.
BBNS: Parents maintain their own contact information throughout the year. And, they may enter unlimited contact phone numbers and e-mails addresses.
DMS: Notifications were not delivered instantly and are usually only received at the home phone; which did not help if the parents were waiting at the bus stop.
BBNS: Bus Bulletin notifications are typically received (by parents) within 15 seconds of the time you send them – while the information still matters. And they are delivered to all contact numbers.
DMS: School Administrators did not receive notifications.
BBNS: Bus Bulletin sends the notifications to designated school administrators so they are informed too.
DMS: Sending notifications was difficult and slow, and the district had to call and record a message before it could be distributed.
BBNS: Bus Bulletin uses pre-worded messages (that you may edit if you choose). It usually takes less than 15 seconds to send a notification.
DMS: The district-wide system was not designed for transportation departments.
BBNS: Bus Bulletin is designed specifically for district transportation departments.
While it may be very tempting to try and use a “free” existing district-wide messaging system, there are very real costs (time and personnel) and other factors that make them much less of a value as an effective notification system for buses that are delayed. If you analyze the costs to customize the messaging system, the lack of direct support, and the lost productivity associated with trying to use a system that is not purposefully designed for your needs, you may very well reach the conclusion that Bus Bulletin is actually a much greater value.
From a parent’s perspective; we believe that receiving a single notification when unexpected events occur is much more desirable than receiving twenty notifications each week when normal events occur. We believe that parents will likely become desensitized after receiving ten to twenty notifications each week, and will eventually ignore them – thus defeating the purpose of providing the information.
While the RFID provides student tracking information to parents, it does not provide any information to the school administrators. Bus Bulletin provides important transportation related information to both parents and school administrators.
One of the reasons transportation departments value Bus Bulletin is because it significantly reduces the amount of time spent on the phone with parents and school administrators. It takes less than ten seconds to send a Bus Bulletin notification that is sent to all affected parents and school administrators when a bus is late, involved in an accident or encounters a schedule change. RFID tracking does not provide similar information to either group.
While Bus Bulletin reduces time spent on the phone, we believe that RFID tracking can increase it since parents may wonder why their child is not on (or off of) the bus and will call the transportation department to find out.
Below is a real-world example where RFID can cause an increase in phone calls from parents as compared to Bus Bulletin notifications which will inform the parents and reduce or eliminate calls.
Example: There is a lightning storm in the area that approaches just as school lets out and the decision is made to prevent students from boarding the buses for 30 minutes until weather clears. If you are using RFID student tracking; the parents who still view the tracking information would begin calling and asking if their child was left at school. If a Bus Bulletin notification was sent advising the parents that the students were being held at school, the parents would be informed and would likely not call since they would be aware of the situation.
Tracking technology simply cannot provide the same information that can be communicated with the help of human interaction.
There are many scenarios where no useful information is provided by simply knowing where a bus is located.
Example 1. A bus has a flat tire, or is stuck in traffic, or is held up by road construction. GPS will indicate where the bus is, but nothing about its status. A GPS tracking system cannot accurately predict when a bus will have its tire repaired, or make its way through traffic or construction delays.
Example 2. Bus 742 is running a route for bus 965 because the driver of bus 965 called in sick. Bus 555 will be transporting the students that normally ride bus 742. GPS tracking will show where bus 742 is and an estimated time to the bus stop, but that information is useless since the parent’s child is being transported by another bus.
Example 3. Bus 622 is double-loaded and will take an additional 20 minutes to load and transport its students to school. GPS tracking may show that the bus is on the route, but it has no capability to inform the parents that the bus will arrive at the stop 20 minutes behind schedule. GPS tracking does not inform the school that the bus will be arriving late; this means that the students could be marked as absent or late unless the transportation department takes the time to phone the school and inform them.
If your goal is to provide transportation related information that involves knowing when a bus is late, been involved in an accident, or encountered a schedule change – GPS tracking will not be very helpful. GPS tracking is useful only if the bus is on, or about to begin, its normal scheduled route with no delays on the route.
Bus Bulletin enables you to quickly distribute information that is useful, while it still matters. In each of the scenarios above the transportation department could send out notifications to all affected parties in less than 10 seconds. Using Bus Bulletin – all parties (parents, students, school administrators) can be notified in less time than it takes to look up and dial one phone number.
Nevertheless, we know that many districts are struggling with shrinking budgets and many who want Bus Bulletin simply cannot find the funds in their budgets to pay for a subscription. If your district recognizes the value of the information provided by Bus Bulletin but cannot find the funds to pay for it – We can help! Please contact us and let us tell you how you may still be able to use Bus Bulletin.
There are several means of encouraging parents to register for Bus Bulletin:
- Media Release. Use the media to inform parents that you are providing the Bus Bulletin notification service. This is a wonderful opportunity to show your community that you are working to provide for the safety of the children you transport while providing convenience and information to the parents of those children.
- Flyers. We provide a template that you can use to print flyers that are distributed to parents.
- Website Links. Add links to the appropriate transportation, district and school websites so parents can follow the links to register for Bus Bulletin.
- Manual Account Creation. For parents who do not have internet access, the district should designate personnel (within the transportation department and schools) who can create a user account and assign a phone number to that account.
Automatic Enrollment (AE)
Bus Bulletin can accept and process data provided by the district to automatically assign accounts to parents using contact numbers provided to the district during school (or bus) enrollment. Parents who wish to register may still do so in order to add or change phone numbers. Using AE may assure a high participation rate among parents. Please note that Bus Bulletin will not require, or use, any information that identifies students when using AE – the only information used will be the route, school and contact phone number.
We look for users who select an abnormal number of buses and contact district personnel when it happens. In every case it has been district personnel who were responsible for selected buses, or teachers who wanted to receive notifications for buses that transported their students. We also log every notification that is sent and save the log indefinitely, even if the person deactivates their account.
We believe that someone who intends to harm children will find other, more anonymous ways to target children.
In the event that something does happen – we will immediately provide all information to law enforcement agencies.