SpotMyBus began as a GPS system. However, we discovered GPS tracking and routing are so intimately related that even as we added one routing feature after another to SpotMyBus it never occurred to us to charge anything extra for routing. All SpotMyBus software (GPS, Routing and Student Ridership) is available for the single, low price of $29 per bus per month.

So, if you want the most powerful, easiest-to-use routing system and you also desire GPS, SpotMyBus might be your best choice and it will cost less than half of any other GPS/Routing/Student Ridership combination.

Routing Covers a Lot of Ground

The challenges of school bus routing include all of the planning and activities associated with ensuring school buses get students to and from schools. Of course, not every school bus activity is a routing activity. Transporting students on field trips and to sporting events are important responsibilities of transportation departments, but those are not routing activities. The fundamental characteristic of routing activities is they repeat, almost identically, one school day after another.

These are all routing tasks:

  1. capture current bus routes
  2. determime locations for bus stops
  3. determine bus routes (the sequence of bus stops a bus shall visit, turns it shall make, and school it shall visit) and assigning each student to a bus stop and route
  4. estimate bus arrival time at each bus stop
  5. assig a specific bus to each route
  6. add/remove bus stops to and from routes as needed through the school year
  7. modify a route by changing the path (without changing stops)
  8. monitore route adherence by bus drivers
  9. produce route sheets
  10. guide a driver (usually a substitute driver) along a route (e.g. spoken directions)
  11. help a lost driver (usually a substitute driver) find his way back onto the route
  12. add special instructions for stop, turns and particular students

No routing system performs all of the tasks listed above. Quite a few are only available in SpotMyBus, but even SpotMyBus doesn't include all of them. Let's examine each.

1. Capture Current Bus Routes

Most every routing system requires transportation personnel to enter every single bus stop on every single route into the routing system. Some systems required entering the latitude and longitude (to six decimal digits) for each bus stop. This is crushingly tedious, time-consuming and error-prone too.

Other systems allow the department to specify bus stops as cross streets (4th and Main), or by street address. When cross-streets are used, bus stops show up in the center of the intersection. The problem with street addresses is they correspond to house locations. Many bus stop locations do line up accurately with any existing street address.

Only SpotMyBus automatically captures each bus route. SpotMyBus automatically captures every turn and every stop and makes it instantly available to the transportation department. No typing is needed. Countless hours of time are saved. Bus stop locations are captured with perfect accuracy.

2. Determine Locations for Bus Stops

Routing systems usually do not recalculate all bus stops every year. They begin by assuming the stops for the new school year will be the same as for the last year, and add or remove stops as necessary. It is generally desirable not to move bus stops without a very good reason, because students and parents are already familiar with the current stops their kids use.

SpotMyBus does not calculate bus stop locations. It does, however, capture all existing bus stops and makes it very easy to add or remove bus stops to a route.

3. Determine Bus Routes

Some routing systems get fed the home addresses of each student, the school each student attends, the location of each school and its start time. Such systems may then calculate where the bus stops should be placed, and how many buses, traveling which paths, can collect all of the students and get them to school on time in the morning, and return them in the afternoon.

Some school districts require this functionality. Many do not. Many school districts use the same basic routes each year and tweak them by adding and removing a few stops as needed. Keep in mind that software to determine bus routes must make many assumptions: speed limits, travel time between stops (which may vary with traffic) and the quality of roads. There are also factors software cannot know, like local traffic patterns and construction delays. Some transportation departments have developed so much expertise in calculating their local routes that they do a better job than computer software and continue to determine bus routes manually and use their routing systems for other features.

Even for school districts needing this feature, it is only used at the start of the school year. After the routes are settled for the year, they don't need to be determined again until the next school year, however, all of the other routing actions and capabilities are needed all through the year.

4. Estimate Bus Arrival Time at Each Stop

This is hard for routing systems to estimate because they usually depend on estimated travel time which is affected by speed limits, local traffic patterns, road conditions, delays at bus stops, etc. Only SpotMyBus captures actual arrival times at each bus stop and monitors it over time. SpotMyBus arrival times are not estimates; they reflect exactly what buses actually do.

5. Assign a Specific Bus to Each Route

On any given day, a bus might break down, or a driver may become unavailable and the regular bus may not be available to run its route. The solution is to use a substitute bus to run the route. Typically, such substitute buses are used for 5% - 10% of buses every day.

SpotMyBus begins with a transportation department provided list of which buses normally run each route. SpotMyBus makes it simple to assign a substitute bus to a route whether for a single afternoon or the rest of the year. SpotMyBus even warns when an operator accidentally assigns an already assigned bus. Reliably performing bus reassignments is essential for districts where parents use mobile apps to track their children's buses.

6. Add/Remove Bus Stop

SpotMyBus users who have used other routing systems agree that adding, removing, or moving bus stops is simple with SpotMyBus. An entire route is easily displayed. A stop is moved simply using the mouse to drag it. Removing a stop requires two mouse clicks. Adding a stop is done by clicking on the map, exactly where the new stop shall be added.

SpotMyBus is the only routing solution that identifies bus stops that are no longer needed, and stops a driver is making that are not part of the route.

7. Modifying (Editing) a Route

Again, SpotMyBus users who have used other routing systems agree that editing routes is easiest in SpotMyBus. An entire route is easily displayed, showing each stop and turn. Stops and turns can be dragged as needed. New stops and turns are easily added by clicking exactly where they are needed.

8. Route Adherence

The safety and quality of a route does not matter if the driver doesn't adhere to it. When a parent calls to say the bus didn't arrive to pick up her child, with a few clicks SpotMyBus can show exactly when the bus arrived at the stop (or that it didn't). SpotMyBus easily identifies speeding and makes it easy to investigate reports of speeding. As mentioned, SpotMyBus identifies bus stops no longer being used and stops that are not part of the route.

9. Route Sheets

Route sheets are needed, primarily, by substitute drivers who do not know the routes or the students. SpotMyBus, hands-down, produces the clearest, easiest-to-read, route sheet. It groups stops by runs, and shows timings for each stop and turn. Route sheets are produced entirely based on the edited routes.

10. Guide a (Substitute) Driver

Only SpotMyBus speaks turn-by-turn directions for substitute drivers. It tells them exactly where to turn and when to stop, eliminating the danger of trying to read a route sheet while driving.

11. Help a Lost (Substitute) Driver Get Back on Route

If a substitute bus driver loses his way, he can get on the radio and a dispatcher can call up his route in SpotMyBus. The dispatcher will see the bus in real time and the route. After the dispatcher guides the driver back on the route, the SpotMyBus tracker will continue with spoken directions.

12. Provide Special Instructions for Stops, Turns, and Students

While editing a route, notes can be added to any stop or turn and the SpotMyBus tracker will speak those notes when the bus arrives at the stop or turn. A note might tell a driver how best to turn around the bus, or that a student boarding the bus needs to sit in a certain seat, or anything else! Of course, all such notes also appear on the route sheet. Only SpotMyBus can do this.

Routing Features Like No Other

SpotMyBus does not determine bus routes. If your transportation department needs that routing feature then SpotMyBus won't meet your needs. If, however, you keep routes from year-to-year and simply modify them, or if you design your routes using human expertise instead of software, SpotMyBus does more and does it better than any other routing system.