25 Aug

Transfinder in the News: School buses to launch new year with improved features

From News-Press NOW
By Marcus Clem
August 18, 2021

Robert Sigrist has a thought on the modern world of the school bus in that it’s the year 2021, and we’ve figured out how to track mail packages better than kids.

Well, perhaps not for much longer. By the end of this week, Apple Bus Co. plans to introduce new routes for its vehicles. This will empower a new electronic device app, a product of Transfinder Corporation, which Apple Bus has licensed for the St. Joseph School District.

When Stopfinder goes online, parents can use the software to know bus schedules, receive push notifications on any changes, get real-time bus locations and know exactly when a bus arrives at their home and school.

“They know instead of standing outside, maybe waiting in the rain, they can say, ‘Hey, I know the bus is still five minutes away. We can wait indoors before we go out,’” said Sigrist, director of nonacademic support and student services. “Maybe it gives them a sense of comfort, ‘Hey, I know for sure, the bus did make it to our house and drop my child off.’ They’ll see that the bus was there.”

The app relies on checking vehicles and what is happening with the bus company’s operations rather than tracking individual kids. However, the idea is that if parents know their child was in a place at a given time, they will also know whether or not the bus was there. This is designed to allow stress-free management of student travel in a world where all adults in the household may be employed full time.

“Your child’s safety is paramount,” Transfinder said in an online parental briefing. “We know that having the most current data embedded in the parent app is critical. We also all know that schedules and plans change for any number of reasons. But receiving those timely updates is crucial for you to not miss a beat.”

Sigrist spoke to how the district has seen improved safety aboard buses in general as a side effect of COVID-19 precautions put in place last year. Students are continuing to be seated in assigned places. Drivers can know exactly where kids are at and what they’re doing, and onboard security cameras capture this for any potential review. Disciplinary reports and administrative punishments have gone down. Any would-be bullies seemingly know that if they misbehave, they’ll get caught.

“It was very easy to identify students anytime there were any issues and everything,” Sigrist said. “I think the building leaders would tell you that it was a very positive situation with us ... As soon as they’re made aware of something, definitely they’re going to look into it.”

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