WOODLAND — KWRL, the transportation cooperative serving Woodland Public Schools, recently introduced live Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking for the bus routes serving Woodland.
Parents can now see the precise location of their student’s bus in real time using Skyward Family Access. By logging into Skyward Family Access, clicking the District Links drop-down in the upper-right and selecting KWRL Parent Portal, parents can type in their student’s bus number and the software will begin tracking the bus in an overhead map view, helping parents know when the bus reaches their student’s stop.
KWRL is able to offer this new feature through Samsara, a special live-tracking software also used by the trucking industry to track drivers throughout the United States. KWRL will use the new software to view the school bus locations as well as perform vehicle diagnostics remotely to ensure buses receive needed maintenance. With the new software, KWRL employees can see engine diagnostics including fuel level, coolant temperature, oil pressure, odometer reports, engine error codes and even engine speed in Revolutions Per Minute (RPMs).
“Having accurate real-time tracking of our buses is incredibly valuable,” said Shannon Barnett, KWRL’s transportation director. “Our previous system could have as much as a 15-minute delay between check-ins, but the new system uses cellular phone towers for virtually immediate reports so we can see our buses where they are right now.”
In addition to diagnostics, Samsara will allow KWRL to guide bus drivers with detours and directions, helping to ensure that bus drivers don’t get lost. The software also gives KWRL the ability to produce analytic reports showing how many times a bus is late or early at a given schedule, helping KWRL create more accurate schedules and modify routes as needed.
“We believe this new system will provide increased efficiency to our scheduling systems,” Barnett said. “We can update routes in minutes instead of having to spend hours collecting information because the software can produce reports on request.”
KWRL will also ensure drivers take necessary safety precautions as the software reports every time a driver uses stop paddles, flashing lights, or hazard lights while the software also tracks excessive speed or acceleration as well as harsh braking.
“Knowing our drivers’ speed and driving techniques is critical to improving our training and ensuring passenger safety,” Barnett said. “Our drivers know we have this data, and they appreciate it because the software brings additional accountability to the cooperative.”
GPS bus tracking is available to Woodland parents right now with KWRL expecting to bring tracking to Ridgefield, La Center and Kalama school districts (the other districts in the cooperative) in the near future.
This information was provided by the Woodland School District.