By Anyssa Bohanan
Central Oregon Daily
Starting this week, hundreds of students across the Redmond School District will be headed to school on yellow buses.
For relatives like Tammy, knowing where and when their students are after they hop on the bus can be a relief.
“It’s good information and kind of can put your mind at ease when you know where they got on, what time they got on, when you know they should be getting home you’ll know exactly at least that they were at the bus stop that they were left off there,” said Tammy McKinley, Routing Specialist for the district and a grandmother of a student.
A new app created by the district is making it easier for parents and grandparents like McKinley to keep up with their children on their way to and *from* school.
“It’s just one more tool that they have to partner with us and know what’s going on with their kids,” McKinley said.
‘Here Comes the Bus’ allows parents and students to track their bus location in real time through push notifications and email.
“It’ll be great in the winter when buses are running late and they know they’re running late they’ll be able to see when they’re getting close by,” said Michelle Rainville, transportation supervisor for the Redmond School District. “It doesn’t follow the bus clear around but once it gets within a vicinity of their bus stop then it alerts them that the bus is there and it lets them know when the bus has came and left.”
The district has been developing the app for about a year.
Once it was complete, they ran a pilot program with parents and students…to ensure it ran successfully.
“The moms that used it thought it was awesome! It just gave them a little bit of a piece of mind that they didn’t have to wonder “Did the bus show up yet? Is it running late? Is it cold outside and they’re sitting out there waiting for it?” So it worked great,” Rainville said.
There are a few kinks that still need to be worked out.
“One thing I noticed with my granddaughter it was showing the bus being at her stop before it really was but I know how to alleviate that,” McKinley said.
In addition to working out a few bugs, Rainville says they hope to have cards assigned to students riding the bus in the future that could be scanned to ensure student safety.
“We want to know our bus riders, we need to know who’s on the bus. Are you supposed to be on the bus? Are you even a student of the school?,” she said. “We can’t just let anyone ride the bus. So you know we have bus rosters that print based on your home address, the drivers have all of those and they do monitor them. So if we were able to have those student cards it would save the bus drivers some efforts.”