Katy ISD plans to install GPS on bus fleet for improvements in safety, efficiency

Image description
Katy ISD plans to install GPS on bus fleet for improvements in safety, efficiency
By next fall, parents and guardians of Katy ISD students will be able to track their children’s school buses.

The KISD board of trustees approved a three-year, $607,680 contract with Education Logistics Inc., or Edulog, on Feb. 25 to install GPS and diagnostic software on 425 buses. The technology will also allow the district to collect bus data to improve safety and efficiency.

Through a free mobile phone application, KISD parents and guardians will not only be able to see where their children’s buses are located during transit, but they will also be able to set up notifications for when a specific bus reaches a certain distance from the school or home, Assistant Superintendent for Operations Ted Vierling said at the Feb. 18 work-study board meeting.

If a parent wants to know where a bus is under the existing technology, he or she calls the district, and KISD radios all bus drivers to learn a specific bus’s location, Vierling said.

“And when you call on the radio, you’re calling every bus,” he said. “There’s folks talking over each other. Sometimes it’s hard to communicate.”

KISD parent Anoop Rathod sees the technology as a positive change. He and his wife have a son in high school and a daughter in elementary school.

“I do support that thing to have a GPS on the buses, but my biggest reason is that I can track the kids,” he said. “It will give us peace of mind.”

Vierling stressed the technology will not track the students, just the buses. For example, the app will tell parents if their child’s bus arrived late to a stop, but it will not tell parents if their child got off the bus. He added the district will not share student data to any person other than students’ parents or guardians, but they can give out the information to others, such as grandparents, babysitters or other caretakers.

KISD installed the systems March 11-15 and selected Bethke, Wilson and Franz elementary schools for the pilot program, Media Relations and Multimedia Manager Maria DiPetta said in an email. A full rollout is planned for the fall, Vierlings said.

Driving for data


In addition to the parent app, the technology will also provide data to KISD to help it improve safety and bus routes, Vierling said.

“We struggle with some routes and some [bus] times; that is not news,” he said. “It’ll provide detailed information on everything from location stops, driving speed [and] route efficiency.”

KISD will be able to check to see if buses are speeding, taking the correct route and halting for a sufficient period of time at bus stops, he said.

Cy-Fair ISD installed GPS and related software in its bus fleet in summer 2015, and it has used the data to improve transportation efficiency, said Leslie Francis, the assistant superintendent for communication and community relations for CFISD, in an email.

“We can see the planned versus the actual route buses take, which can assist us in ensuring efficiency,” she said. “The GPS system also provides us with idling and fuel consumption data, which allows us to identify those areas where we can decrease fuel consumption for more savings.”

One of the biggest challenges with implementing the technology involved training, she said. Vierling also noted rolling out the GPS, parent app and related software will be a learning curve for both parents and the district.

KISD plans to create a web page with instructions for parents and guardians on how to download the app and use it, Vierling said. He added Edulog has helped other districts answer parents’ questions through a call center.

“Obviously, we know there’s going to be challenges,” Vierling said. “We feel like the benefits will far outweigh the negatives.”
SHARE THIS STORY
By Jen Para

Jen joined Community Impact Newspaper in fall 2018 as the editor of the Katy edition. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Jen has written about business, politics and education. Prior to CI, Jen was the web producer at Houston Business Journal.


MOST RECENT

Karen Waldrup (top) and The Soul Rebels (bottom) both had to cancel shows scheduled in Houston due to coronavirus. (Photo illustration by Justin Howell/Community Impact Newspaper)
Houston-area musicians go virtual to play for fans amid coronavirus cancellations of live shows

As non-essential businesses like bars and music venues are forced to close due to coronavirus concerns, musicians find themselves performing for audiences behind computer screens and asking for virtual tips.

Katy's dog park is closed until further notice. (Courtesy Jess Washburn/City of Katy)
Katy sets new parks restrictions to slow spread of coronavirus

Most city of Katy parks remain open but now have new access restrictions.

Waller County Judge Trey Duhon is urging residents to not panic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
UPDATE: Waller County judge reports first case of COVID-19

“This comes as no surprise. There is no reason to be alarmed," the county judge said.

While the agency is still tallying the number of unemployment insurance claims filed thus far in March, in the week prior to March 25, at least 150,000 claims had been filed. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Official: Increase in calls for statewide unemployment benefits is ‘almost vertical’

According to Serna, on an average day the Texas Workforce Commission’s four call centers statewide receive 13,000-14,000 calls; on March 22, the agency received 100,000 calls regarding unemployment insurance benefit inquiries.

University of Houston System instruction site in Katy
Katy universities, colleges face challenges transitioning classes online to slow coronavirus outbreak

"Over the last couple of weeks, there has been a bit of a rush just to make sure that we are able to successfully transition all of those classes to an online setting," one local university representative said.

Texana
Texana plans late summer opening for new Fulshear campus

The campus will be located near the intersection of Wallis Street and FM 359.

DATA: Cases, recovery rates and death rates for COVID-19 in the Greater Houston area

A total of 441 cases of coronavirus have been identified in the Greater Houston area as of March 26.

Several restaurants in Tomball and Magnolia are having to adjust their business operations as social distancing practices take shape. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
Stay up to date on how businesses across the Greater Houston area are adapting to coronavirus

Find local businesses and nonprofits to support as they grapple with coronavirus-related restrictions through our area guides.

hospital emergency room
Ebola, other past virus outbreaks help Katy-area hospitals prepare for coronavirus

"The Ebola scare a few years ago was a useful trial run for us to handle these types of infectious disease events," a local hospital representative said.

Thai Spice Asian Gourmet
12-year-old restaurant Thai Spice Asian Gourmet features traditional Thai recipes

The eatery offers dishes including pad thai, curry and mango dessert.

Back to top