Disclosure: NYC Dads Group received compensation from Here Comes the Bus for this post. The quotes from our City Dads Group parents are genuine.
Many NYC moms and dads in November experienced one of a parents’ greatest fears: they couldn’t locate their children.
An early-season snowstorm paralyzed afternoon traffic, leaving students taking school buses home stranded on the road for hours and making parents frantic. This was especially upsetting to those with special needs students or little ones without cell phones.
As a result, the New York City Council in January approved several measures related to improving school bus services. A key piece of this legislation requires the installation of GPS systems on all 10,000 city school buses by September. This, in part, would allow parents and guardians to track their children’s bus location in real time.
This new technology for parents excites James Lopez, a Staten Island father of two. “Thank goodness I won’t have to worry if my child’s bus came or not. No more standing in the rain or catching frostbite for no reason,” said Lopez, a co-organizer for NYC Dads Group.
Such computer or app-based GPS-linked systems are already in place in several urban U.S. school systems, such as Atlanta and Indianapolis.
A majority of NYC school buses already have GPS technology installed, but the city is still deciding on a vendor to provide the bus tracking mobile app to parents.
Contender to link school bus GPS to NYC parents
A leading contender that says it can easily make the September deadline is “Here Comes the Bus,” a software tracking system already used in hundreds of U.S. schools district including the cities of San Antonio, Texas, and Charlotte, N.C.
Once purchased and installed by a district to work with its school bus fleet, parents can download the free Here Comes the Bus app to smartphones, tablets or computers.
Additionally, Here Comes the Bus offers a feature known as Student Ridership. It lets parents individually track their children from the time they get on the bus to exactly where and when they exit the bus. The system works via a scanner barcode or radio frequency identification chip on a student’s ID card.
This data would also give parents, and school and busing officials information on a child’s whereabouts if a student accidentally got on the wrong bus or off at the wrong stop.
The Here Comes the Bus app tracks their child’s bus along its route so they know exactly when to be at the stop for drop off or pick up. It even let users set up alerts so they are notified when the bus gets within a certain distance of the child’s stop.
In Charlotte, N.C., where the public school system is in its second year of using Here Comes the Bus, the app has become a must every day classes are in session for the children of Darrell Humphrey, an organizer of our Charlotte Dads Group and father of three.
“Here Comes the Bus helps us with time management in the morning and being able to get the kids to the stop in time,” he said. “My son, Ethan, asks me every morning, ‘Dad, where’s the bus at?’ It also helps me, as the parent who’s home in afternoon, to know when he’s on the bus and heading home. I would highly recommend this app to other parents.”
With all the concerns about privacy these days, Here Comes the Bus encrypts every student’s data. Only an authorized user with the proper ID and password can access it. Parents are only able to see their student’s information and no one else’s.
Here Comes the Bus, from Indianapolis-based Synovia Solutions, has more than 1 million users and overall positive reviews, including a positive 4.6 out of 5 stars rating in the Apple iTunes store.