EAST BATON ROUGE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - East Baton Rouge Parish school bus drivers who speed or show up late are not going to be able to fly under the radar much longer. The school board has agreed to fund tracking devices on all its buses.
Roughly 600 school buses transport children to schools across EBR Parish five days a week. Many of them have seen some big upgrades in the last few years, but Chief of Student Support Services Gary Reese, who oversees transportation for the school system, says the entire fleet is about to enter the technology age.
"Mostly we want to guarantee the security and safety of the students. This helps us do that," Reese said.
The technology by Trip Spark gives school systems a real-time view of bus locations, includes an interactive history, and a list of bus stops and times. Reese says school administrators will also have some access to see when a bus is due to arrive. An app called Where's The Bus lets parents know when their child's bus will get to their stop. It updates every 15 seconds. All you need is an internet connection.
"If we have a bus that breaks down, then we will get a few calls from parents of those children. Naturally, they want to know where the child is and if it [bus] breaks down in the morning and they haven't been picked up from the route yet," Reese said.
Reese hopes the investment will help calm parents' fears and help dial back on the phone calls to transportation staff when a bus late or does not show. "It'll give us information about where the bus is, how long they are at stops, speeds, lots of information that will be very helpful to us," Reese said.
Reese says once the contract is approved, installation will begin immediately. The goal is to have a GPS on board all EBR school buses by the end of spring.
The system will cost between $700,000 and $1 million over a five-year period.