Dealing with driver shortage, pandemic head on with... Routefinder PLUS
Nicole Havee is glad her district was a Routefinder PLUS early adopter. She and her router got COVID not long after getting the browser-based routing solution by Transfinder, which empowered them to route from their homes.
And in the midst of the ongoing national school bus driver shortage, Routefinder PLUS’ Trip Absorption function helped the Okeechobee County School District (FL) cut 10 routes, from 53 to 43, to soften the impact of the shortage.
“Havee, the district’s transportation supervisor for the past seven years, has seen a lot in her 24 years in the transportation industry. With that experience, Havee help prepare her district’s transportation department for the future that has served the school well during the recent challenges. Soon after starting at Okeechobee, she sought to bring in routing software and the district put out an RFP (Request for Proposals). Prior to Havee coming on board, the district was manually creating routes.
“It was all paper,” Havee remembers. Okeechobee is a mostly rural district with 6,100 students attending 10 schools. About 4,000 students are transported every day, with three start times – one for elementary school students, one for middle school students and one for high school students.
After reviewing three different routing products, she concluded Transfinder’s was the best. She was impressed with how quickly route changes could be made.
“Transfinder caught our eye because it was very user-friendly, very visually appealing,” Havee remembers. “The routes are much easier understood when you can see the differences and changes made. Transfinder had that visual aspect with it’s maps and its colors. And the reports are very diverse – and a lot of them. And the customer service was hands down the best.”
Routefinder helped the transportation department get the big picture. And the district was among the first to move from Routefinder Pro to the award-winning Routefinder PLUS. Havee says she wasn’t worried about making the change because Transfinder’s “customer service is excellent.”
She says PLUS gives her the most accurate information at her fingertips. “It’s really nice to be able to be home or if you’re out and about and somebody needs an answer really quickly, you can pull it up on most devices and quickly see what they’re looking for,” she says.
She says the ability to create numerous “what if” scenarios was useful especially when the district was changing the number of students that could be assigned to a bus because of social distancing. PLUS’ Artificial Intelligence Optimization is critically important to help the district see the impacts of certain decisions.
The district also has Tripfinder, to help with field trips, Infofinder i, so parents can look up their children’s route information, and Viewfinder, which gives all the building personnel key bus information.
“We were the only two who knew the program at all and we did all the routing for the county from home,” she remembers. “It made us really get into it and it helped.
It was just very intuitive.”