Over the last two years, “not normal” has become the new normal.
We have heard stories from so many of our schools about the difficulty of running bus service during COVID, of keeping staff, of making sure everyone stays healthy and worrying about those who have had serious health challenges as a result of the pandemic — it is truly amazing that bus service has been able to work at all. Due to the hard work and heroic efforts of the transportation staff we work with, the buses have kept running and students have gotten to school.
One challenge that has been shared with us on several occasions is the problem of “split” or “combined” routes. Perhaps you have shared information like this (taken from an actual website) with your parents:
All of G2’s students will be riding on G1’s bus. Your students, on G2, will be picked up a little later than normal. B3’s students will be riding B14. Your students, on B3, will get picked up at normal time. B14’s students will be split between B14, B11, and G6. G6 will pick up Reid Rd and Reid Circle for primary and Elementary students only. B11 will pick up High School and Middle School students. B11 will also pick up West Brook Rd and Windy Lake RD. Yes, all grades, but not at the same time. B14 Will still pick up Mt. View Circle, you all have received the call, and 78. Those on 78 will be picked up slightly later than normal. Please bear with us.
BusWhere is proud to support these complicated scenarios in a typically BusWhere fashion — with minimal work for you, the transportation staff, and maximal benefit for parents and riders.
The goal of split and combined routes is to quickly and easily allow parents to view the bus in real-time on a non-standard route — on a route that ordinarily they would not be able to see. We have heard from staff and drivers that in these situations it’s hard to predict how the driver will actually drive the route — often they will play it by ear, ask the “new kids” where is best for them to get off, etc.
To keep things easy, we provide an interface that lets you define one or more routes as “combined” for some period of time — one or more days. During that time, parents on all buses will have access to all combined routes and will be able to see the bus on their BusWhere app. ETAs may not be reliable in this case but parents will know where the bus is.
As an example: On Wednesday at 6am, the driver on Bus 6 calls in sick for the rest of the week. The BusWhere administrator knows these kids will be split between Bus 9 and 13. they log into Buswhere, choose Bus 6, click the “Merged Routes” button, and choose Buses 9 and 13. They choose a date range (Wed-Fri), and save. And that’s all.
Parents of the Bus 6 kids will open BusWhere Wednesday morning and be able to see Buses 9 and 13 (just this week!), and see the bus as it moves along those routes. The following Monday morning they will lose access to 9 and 13 and go back to how things were.
Transportation staff will NOT have to:
- Decide which stops will get distributed to which buses
- Reorder stops any the other routes
- Worry about drivers not driving the “new” route as they defined it
- Remember to “switch things back” when the time period ends
If the change is longer term (weeks instead of days), staff can always modify the route “permanently” and then change it back if/when it goes back to normal.
We hope this new feature proves useful and easy to manage — and as always we are happy for feedback! If you are already a BusWhere customer, you may contact firstname.lastname@example.org to have this enabled for your account at no extra cost.