Bus from Akron to Cleveland
AKRON, Ohio - Looking for the school bus? Akron school children and their families no longer need to stand in the pouring rain, wondering when it'll arrive.
Who can use the app?
The app is free to families of children who ride Akron Public School buses. It's available in the App Store and Google Play. And you don't need a smartphone or tablet to use it. You can access the app via the web from your laptop or desktop computer.
Use is restricted to eligible students and families, who will receive a letter from Akron Public Schools containing the special code needed to access and install the app.
What can the app do?
"What we really like about it is, because Akron is an urban school district and has road closures, this lets parents see where the bus is and if the bus is running late, " said William Andexler, the district's transportation coordinator. "And if the bus is delayed for whatever reason, they can keep them in the house until the bus gets in range."
Here Comes the Bus:
- Shows the real-time location of your child's bus on a map
- Gives scheduled and actual arrival times at home and school for morning, mid-day and afternoon routes
- Provides text and email alerts when the bus is near or when the bus has been substituted
- Allows parents to determine when notifications are delivered, such as 5, 15 or 20 minutes away from the child's stop
- Is available in English, Spanish and French
How tech savvy is the district?
Behind the scenes, the district's transportation department is going tech, swapping out paper-based record keeping and tracking methods for all things digital.
Here Comes the Bus is just one module in a package of Synovia software the school system put into play last May and has been testing since. The program was chosen, in part, because it works well with the school system's current pupil transportation software, which helps with routing the 80 to 90 buses running on each shift.
Now, officials can see all vehicles in the fleet at the same time on one screen. The software can monitor the speed of buses, as well as certain engine conditions, Andexler said. The new system also supports tablets mounted in each bus, to provide directions in case of accidents or road closures.
A new emergency feature - if a child has a medical issue or the bus is in an accident - allows drivers to send immediate alerts to school officials.
"Drivers do a great job of communicating by radio, " said Debra Foulk, executive director of business affairs. "But between the engine noise and the loudness of the kids, sometimes it's hard to hear over the radio."
How can I use the app?
For savvy smartphone users, the school system hopes parents will become accustomed to the ring tone they assign to messages from Here Comes the Bus. That could reduce instances of first-grade and kindergarten students not having an adult at the bus stop. Drivers can't drop young students off without someone there.
"When you hear that announcement you're going to know I need to get to the bus stop, " Foulk said. "If this helps alleviate that, I am just thrilled to death."
Although the roll-out of the new software required extensive training for the school system staff, mechanics and bus drivers, parents should find it easy to master.