GPS trackers to keep close eye on school buses
















Bradenton,Florida –School buses can run late or miss a stop,and tracking them just got easier for most Bay area school districts.

Most district school buses are equipped with global positioning system (GPS) and some school districts like Manatee have gone a step further this year.

The district’s assistant director of transportation says this year schools will have access to the GPS tracker software to monitor its own buses online.

“What we hope the school will do with having access to it is sending Connect Ed messages out. We can call the parents to say we are caught in traffic. We can monitor it from here,that way keep parents’minds at ease,”explains Riker.

Manatee’s 234 school buses are equipped with GPS trackers. “I think it works to our advantage. It actually helps us,”says Orenthia Walker a school bus driver for 12 years.

Walker picks up his route,the same as last year’s and heads to his bus number 536. He inspects the bus inside and out before moving it out of the district’s bus compound to its pick up location for the school year. This year,the GPS tracker will continue to follow his every move.

Walker says the GPS tracker is good in an emergency. “They can look up on the GPS and find out exactly the last place where the bus stopped,”says Walker.

And if parents question where the bus has been,Walker says the GPS will answer it. “It also helps with stops,because a lot of times parents call and say we didn’t go by a stop,but the GPS shows different.”

Walker says now that schools have access to the GPS information it will make tracking a bus easier for schools and the district.

“A lot of times,schools may come to other bus drivers to get on the radio to contact and see where a bus is. Now they have the access to find out for themselves. It keeps down the congestion on the radio,”says Walker.

Riker explains how the software works. “It follows the route the driver drove,”explains Riker as she pulls up a bus’s route from last May. The map can be placed over a Google Earth map for a better location of the bus. “This one stopped at 8:35 a.m. for 19 seconds…it stopped to load,”says Riker. “It shows me the location,where it stopped,the time it stopped and the duration of the stop,”she adds.

The GPS tracker not only monitors routes,it keeps a close eye on how well bus drivers are driving.

Riker says one can see the speed a bus is traveling. “It shows me how fast they were going. They were going 47 miles per hours at 8:55 at this particular location,”says Riker. The information says Riker is used as a learning tool for bus drivers.

Walker says knowing someone is watching makes bus drivers more careful on the road.  “Those that would speed,they know better now to speed,”says Walker.

10 News checked with area school districts. Hillsborough,Pinellas and Sarasota have GPS trackers on all its school buses. Polk has 198 out of 521 school buses equipped with one. Like Manatee,Sarasota schools have access to the GPS information for their buses. Pinellas schools will go online later this year.

Pasco school buses do not have GPS trackers.

We did not hear back from Hernando school officials. 


Isabel Mascarenas












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