District Adds App to Help Parents Track Buses

All Los Fresnos CISD school buses have been equipped with GPS and parents are now able to track buses near their homes with an app available on mobile devices and computers. Photo: LFCISD

by Ronnie Zamora/LFCISD

Los Fresnos CISD parents of students who ride school buses feel a little safer this year with the launch of a new app to track buses.

More than 700 parents and guardians have registered to use the app so that they will be able to know when their child’s school bus is less than one-quarter of a mile away from home in the mornings and afternoons.

The total registered is only after one week of classes, which began August 14.

“I love the idea of finding out where the bus is,” said Angie Coronado, a mother of students at Rancho Verde Elementary and Los Fresnos High School. “It’s good to be able to see a pattern when the bus is almost at the house.”

All district buses have been equipped with GPS devices that monitor their exact location. Transportation Office dispatchers and office staff who have been able to track locations of all buses on the road can now share some of that technology with parents.

“It’s for the safety of our children and peace of mind of our parents,” said Suzanne Ramirez, Administrator of Transportation. “Now we have instant communication on the location of buses that parents can have access to.”

The free app is available to download on mobile phones and tablets at the Google Play and Apple iTunes stores. Parents must create an account and enter the student identification numbers of their children.

Notifications on the app are automatic once students are registered. Parents will get notifications when the student carrying the bus card boards the bus, exits the bus and when the bus is one-fourth of mile from home. They will also receive Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) when the bus is expected to reach their homes and any other status updates.

Parents are reminded to keep in mind the app is a tool meant to help them plan around bus arrival and departure times. Parents can track the bus location whether they are home or not.

The app does not change procedures for special-needs students and for students in kindergarten or pre-kindergarten. Those students must continue to be received by an adult 18 years or older when the bus arrives at home, as per district policy.

Future enhancements include the option to allow students to carry radio-frequency (RFID) bus cards with magnetic stripes that could be automatically detected within a few inches of the scanner located on the bus dashboard. The scanner could read the student’s RFID card and transmit the student’s location to the app that has been registered by the student’s parents or guardians.

Future plans also include the app providing notifications for buses bringing home students from after-school tutorials and for night and weekend athletic events.

“It’s very helpful especially in the morning when the kids are in the house waiting for the bus,” Coronado said.

“It will really come in handy in the winter when it’s cold or raining outside. The kids won’t have to go outside until right before the bus gets there.”

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