Chambers County Schools uses new bus tracking software

Published 5:21 pm Monday, September 2, 2019

LaFAYETTE — Chambers County Transportation Director Benji Mitchum can find out where every Chambers County School District bus is with the touch of a button.

The district’s latest software gives the school district up-to-the-minute information about all buses, including if it is stopped, idling, how fast it is moving and the closest address. Mitchum said the district implemented the software at the end of last year, but this is the first year it’s been used. it’s been running since the first day of school.

He said the if the check engine light comes on for one of the buses, the school district will receive a notice and the district can send a mechanic to that location.

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“The main function is if there is an accident, we can see exactly where the bus is down to the street,” Mitchum said.  

The software also sends an alert to Mitchum if a driver goes faster than the posted speed limit. However, the warnings don’t go to the bus drivers directly. Mitchum said the district doesn’t want alerts going to the driver in real-time, adding that he would rather talk to them about it.

“We don’t want any alerts going to the driver when they are driving the bus,” he said. “If there is a problem in the engine, there will be an alert sent to us, and the driver does have a touch-to-talk phone if there is an emergency.”

The software can also be used to create more efficient routes. Mitchum said the district is working on creating better routes now, as the software allows him to overlay four routes at one time to see what buses are driving on nearby streets.

“So, when we are planning routes for next year, we can see if there are buses going down the same road,” he said. “We will be able to ask ourselves what can we do to fix it.”

Another perk of the service is that it shows the average fuel mileage each bus is getting, as well as when they are running at peak performance and bad performance hours. He said it lets the district know how to utilize each vehicle best.

The software also allows the district to see the engine hours for each bus throughout its lifetime. Mitchum said the state funds each bus for 10 years.  

Currently, Mitchum said the Chambers County School District has 59 buses in rotation.