To improve timekeeping and safety of buses, Sampson County Schools officials would like to start a GPS system.
Herb Sanderson, director of Transportation for Sampson County Schools, participated in a presentation about a proposed contract from Synovia Solutions for GPS capabilities. The company was represented by Billy Sugg, a former transportation director for Johnston County.
“Most of our neighboring counties already have this,” Sanderson said.
According to the proposed contract, the total payment to rent equipment would cost the district more than $5,300 for tracking, analysis and attendance. With fuel prices decreasing, Sanderson said the district has an opportunity to have the equipment for 186 vehicles for more than five years.
Sugg said the company has experience with over 75,000 vehicles and 650 clients. Currently the company tracks about 9,000 vehicles in North Carolina for counties such as Lenoir, Johnston, Wayne and Bladen.
“Everything falls into three buckets – safety, service and savings,” Sugg said. “Safety, knowing where your vehicles and children are in real time when a bus in on the road.”
Through the service, Synovia Solutions will be able to streamline the routes and track locations throughout the county. Sugg said the technology would help the district provide accurate and quick responses to parents for complaints such as a bus being late or not stopping at their homes. During the presentation, Sanderson said there was a possibility that parents could track their children’s bus through a phone or computer app, “Here Comes the Bus.”
“That’s something that we could probably grow into,” Sanderson said.
During inclement weather, the system will help school officials keep track of vehicles on roads if conditions become worse during the day. Sugg mentioned how the technology came in handy during his days in Johnston County.
“Anytime we had a two-hour delay, one of the first things we did was turn on GPS to see if there was a driver that oversleep, running late or maybe didn’t see the message,” Sugg said. “I know Sampson is like Johnston, have the county could be clear and the other half could be having weather issues. A lot times, the driver may not realize there’s a two-hour delay because there’s nothing at their house.”
Another benefit for the district includes saving measures such as monitoring fuel, idle time and driving behavior such as rough breaking, harsh acceleration and hard turns.Sugg said these measures could reduce maintenance costs. The system would allow drivers to clock in and out for work, instead of keeping track through paper forms.
“On average, we find that people usually reduce their idling by at least 30 to 40 percent,” Sugg said about an hour equaling a gallon of fuel.
Sanderson added that saving one gallon per bus could save the district $67,000 per year.
The system would cover yellow buses and not transportation vehicles since the allotment are only used to transport students to and from school.
“With activity buses that would be another topic we would have to bring us because that’s local money,” Sanderson said.
An implementation date for the GPS has not been set and will be reviewed by attorneys before board members make a decision.
(Chase Jordan | Sampson Independent)
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