App allows school-bus tracking

Figuring out when a School District student’s school bus will arrive is now as easy as a swipe and tap with the new SafeStop application, which uses global positioning system technology to track school buses and update parents on arrival times and alerts.

“SafeStop was created to provide parents with peace of mind,” said Patrick Gallagher, director of sales for SafeStop.

Previously, the GPS data from school buses was only used by staff at Student Transportation, Inc. Now, that information is easily accessible to any parent with a child enrolled in District 51.

Shane Anderson, the operations manager for the District 51 branch of Student Transportation Inc., said the program has reduced the number of parents who call the office about buses.

“In a nutshell, it’s a real-time GPS that updates every 15 seconds and tells the parents exactly where the bus is at all times,” Anderson said. “That functionality drastically reduced our phone calls, so we no longer receive those phone calls from parents asking ‘Where is my bus? How far behind is it?’”

About 1,000 District 51 parents have downloaded and registered with the app, Anderson said. Parents must register through the website, SafeStopApp.com, to confirm that their child is on the bus manifest. Even then, parents only have access to their child’s specific bus route.

Anderson said he uses the app for his own children’s bus routes.

“Being here, I have to know it inside and out, so it really does allow me as a parent to watch it in action,” he said.

The app also updates parents about the cause of a delay, such as if a bus is broken down or an unexpected detour. It’s not meant to replace being at the bus stop on time, Gallagher said.

“The delicate balance we have to relay to parents though is, while this is meant to help them plan when to be at the bus stop, it’s not meant to cheat the system and try to catch the bus at the last second,” he said. “We always make sure to tell parents that they should report to the bus stop at least five to 10 minutes before the estimated time of arrival.”


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