Last week, the city of Nashville, TN approved the installation of GPS devices in their school buses. With 600 buses operating in the metro area, the school board anticipates the new units will improve on safety and efficiency within the bus system.
Currently, an estimated 38,000 students depend on the bus system for transportation to and from school. The addition of GPS technology, which will cost the district 1.5 million, is expected to decrease the number of tardy buses while also enforcing driving guidelines. Since the system tracks the bus route from beginning to end, it can also confirm whether or not the driver completed all the stops.
As Fred Carr, the Chief Operations Officer of metro Nashville, explained, "It sets us up for the future. We are probably going to use it for some things we haven't even thought of."
School bus dispatchers will follow their drivers on an LED screen. Using green dots (on-time buses) and red dots (late buses), the screen will track the time and exact location of all the buses on a map of Nashville. With real time data, dispatchers can warn drivers of closed roads or breakdowns or traffic accidents without interrupting the schedule.
These improvements are expected to be in place by April this year. The school board hopes that despite the large initial expense, the installation will prove to be cost effective in the long run. Some projected savings include combining bus routes, more efficient training for new or substitute drivers and cutting back on overall spending.
Nashville is the not the first community to use GPS systems in their school buses. Last February, Clayton County, a suburb of Atlanta, GA, installed GPS devices as a cost saving measure.