Transport status visibility is critically important to the safe and efficient transport of your students to and from your school. While your staff need to know where buses are and which bus each student should be on, parents often need to know exactly when their child’s bus is due in order to make sure they are there to meet them.

The transport systems at many international schools are currently hampered by manual ways of management. According to the schools we spoke to, the areas most in need of improvement in a typical school transport programme are efficiency, communication, manual processes and safeguarding. We discussed this subject in a recent webinar with international schools, and in today’s post, we will look again at the problems raised and potential solutions to them.

Transport Challenges

Masterminding transport is a complex task, and one made more difficult by not having the correct systems in place. Indeed, 60% of international schools we spoke to are running their transport system using manual processes such as paper, spreadsheets or messaging via WhatsApp or other such platforms. This way of running school transport comes with a number of challenges, including:

  • Labour-intensive process – keeping track of everything on paper is a time-consuming manual process, involving updating attendance lists by hand, ensuring the correct students are on board each bus and passing the list to drivers. This makes for a stressful end to the day for bus monitors!
  • Lack of tracking – with a manual system, it is not possible to live-track where the school bus is, or whether it is running late; yet parents need to know when their children will be home, and staff need to know from a safeguarding perspective where each bus is on its route.
  • Difficult to make changes – parents sometimes need to make changes to a student’s transport needs, for example due to a doctor’s appointment or change of plans, but a paper system makes last-minute emailed or phoned in change requests a challenge to handle.
  • Knowing which students are able to walk home – it can be difficult to keep track of which students are permitted to walk home from the bus stop, leading to confusion, concerns and unnecessary contact with your team.
  • Linking ECAs with transport – a paper transport system can make it challenging to manage students who need a later bus following an after-school club, or changes of plan due to the cancellation of an ECA.

Above all, these challenges can be summarised by one overarching problem: not having everything online and easily accessible in one place. Attendance lists may be managed by spreadsheets, but then parents will email or phone in with change requests, and the day’s piece of paper must be located and updated manually before being passed to the driver. This is an inefficient way of working that can lead to extra stress, human error and potentially compromises to student safety.

Utilising Transport Visibility Technology

These challenges are surmountable thanks to school transport visibility technology, which can give you:

  • Complete visibility – showing staff and parents exactly where students are, and ensuring drivers know whether or not to expect them.
  • Easy change requests – parents can submit change requests via an app, such as requesting a different bus or a different mode of transport (such as walking). These are approved by a member of staff and attendance lists are then automatically updated.
  • Live status updates – with real-time bus times and route updates showing exactly where the bus is, staff and parents can immediately see whether the bus is running on schedule, late or completed. Warnings can be issued via push notification and/or email when the bus is running late.
  • Linking ECAs and transport – plans change all the time where after-school clubs are concerned, as an activity may be cancelled, or students might decide not to attend due to illness or other commitments. Linking ECAs with transport means that attendance lists are updated automatically, so the bus driver always knows whether to expect a particular student or not.

Finally, in our last post, we noted the findings of a study that questioned parents about what they want to receive in terms of communications from their child’s school. They “expressed a desire for a calendar showing events and meetings, as well as curriculum updates and safety information.” Given that transport to and from school is a key element of running events and ensuring children’s safety, the ability of transport status visibility technology to import details of transport arrangements to parents’ calendars is also of great value.

In short, improving transport status visibility brings many benefits to both parents and staff – and so, by extension, to students, as it ultimately helps to ensure they are kept safe at each end of the school day. The right technology makes this simple, easily replacing the time-consuming and error-prone spreadsheets and paper lists of old.

SB Transport