Wake Co. to put GPS systems on school buses
Updated: 06/06/2012 09:13 PM
By: Heather Moore
RALEIGH - The Wake County School Board voted to buy and install a GPS system to track school buses.
“It'll be very good,” said Wake parent George Fritzman. “It'll help keep bus drivers accountable for what they're doing.”
“I think it's a great way to enforce safety habits,” said parent Khalil Belvin, standing with an arm around his 9-year-old son Khalil Jr. “I think it's beneficial as far as knowing who we have behind the wheel, making sure they're doing the correct thing as far as following speed guidelines and things of that sort.”
The GPS system will be able to track a bus' speed, location, even if the driver slams on the brakes. Administrators said it will make school buses safer, more efficient, and easier to manage.
“It's a great management tool,” explained Wake Schools' Senior Director of Transportation Bob Snidemiller. “This enables the limited number of managers we have in the department to be able to know what's going on with buses in the field by looking at a computer screen rather than actually being in the field.”
The GPS system will cost $1.7 million for a five year contract. Most of it will be paid for using savings from locking in lower prices on diesel fuel. Administrators predict the new GPS system will save at least $1 million a year, essentially paying for itself in less than two years.
“This will generate all kinds of useful management information, Snidemiller said. “It will be time and attendance for our bus drivers, so they'll punch in on this system as they get to their bus in the morning. We're looking to be able to better utilize our bus drivers' time and get them to do more during a day while they're being paid, by knowing exactly when they're on the clock. The cost savings is really on the time and attendance, knowing we're paying the bus drivers for the hours they work so it will basically detail that for us.”
“It saves fuel costs by monitoring the bus idling time,” he added. “Fuel is expensive. A bus gets six miles per gallon. When it's sitting there idling it burns a lot of fuel, so by being able to curtail that, we get the cooperation of our drivers to limit their idling time, it will save a tremendous amount of money in fuel.”
But for parents, it's more about safety and peace of mind.
“That'll put more safety in our hearts knowing our son is getting on a supervised school bus,” Belvin said.
Wake Schools plan to start installing the GPS units on school buses by the end of July, so they will be operational when traditional schools start Aug. 27.
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