This year, parents in need of information on bus routes before the first week of school in Palm Beach County (Fla.) School District turned to a new user-friendly program using Google maps developed by Jerry Nyman, the district’s information technology director. Before the Find My Bus Stop application was developed in the fall of 2009, parents had to call the district to find out which bus their child should take, unlike other districts that notify families.
Palm Beach County has a fleet of 615 buses to transport 65,000 kids to 170 schools daily, which left the transportation department to handle thousands of phone calls. Now, parents open the app and input their address and the child’s school, and they will find the closest bus stop. Some large school districts use routing software such as Transfinder and BusBoss. “Companies were trying to sell us GPS systems and routing software, but Jerry realized he could do it himself and save the district millions of dollars. Plus, Find My Bus Stop is tailored to this district,” says Pete DiDonato, general manager of transportation.
Part of the program allows employees to geocode, which is to find the latitude and longitude from a street address—the location of every student. This makes it easier to move, add or delete a stop based on how many students are within certain distances of the bus stops. Nyman says any district with an IT specialist can create a program similar to Find My Bus Stop by using Google Maps API and inserting x and y coordinates. View the Find My Bus Stop Application at palmbeachschools.org/transportation.