After a school bus full of kindergartners got lost last September with a bus driver who did not speak English and could not ask for directions, the Montgomery School District will add a Global Positioning System (GPS) to all 48 district vehicles by the first day of school.
Two of the three contractors who provide bus service for the school district (Krapf, recently purchased from Irvin Raphael, and First Student) will also have GPS. The third company, May, will not.
The new GPS system “allows for real-time tracking of district buses at all times,” David Palumbo, the associate school business administrator told the Montgomery School Board during its August meeting.
For a cost of $44,000, the GPS system will also monitor whether the drivers are operating the bus in a safe manner.
“We will be able to tell if the driver is speeding, and even if the bus is stopped and the engine is idling,” Palumbo said.
The district has teamed up with Tyler Technologies in Maine to install the equipment. The GPS system will provide data on based on time between stops, along with braking and accelerating information. The district will also know if a bus misses a stop or completes a stop, based on the front arm of the bus going up and down.
The system will also automatically send a message to school bus mechanics if there are any problems.
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Bus drivers received training on the new system in late July.
In addition, the school will have a full-time dispatcher in the transportation office for the entire school year. And, instructional aides will run on the buses for Orchid Hill Elementary School for the first week of school to help the youngest students.
See related story: Driver Fired after Kindergartners Bus Goes Missing (The Montgomery News 9.Sept.2018)