Boardman Local School District officially launched "Here Comes the Bus," a free app that tracks where the school bus is in real-time via a GPS tracking device.
Say goodbye to those long waits at the bus stop in the snow or rain, and missing the bus may be a problem of the past, since children and their guardians now can track the bus driver's route and receive a customized notification when the bus is near.
The app, which can be used on a smartphone, tablet or computer, has been in use for the past month, and those using it are saying good things, Superintendent Tim Saxton said.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Boardman mother of four, Connie Spin, enjoys the new App that allows her to track the buses that pick up her children. The new App was tried for a one-month period and so far, it has brought great reviews by users.
"All 52 Boardman route buses have been equipped with GPS trackers, and we have been testing the app system with a group of our parents and staff," said Saxton said. "Now we are ready to launch it district-wide, and we think it will be a real benefit for our parents and increase the safety of our students."
One person who really enjoys the new app is resident Connie Spin, who has four children in the Boardman schools.
"I have a child in eighth, sixth and third grades, and one in kindergarten," she said. "I have had the app for about a month now, and it makes my mornings and afternoons so much easier."
She said the two younger children keep their eyes on the app in the morning to see where their bus is at. They love watching for it, she said. The older kids find they don't have to rush out the door to catch the bus now, and it makes their morning a little less hectic.
For afternoons, Spin said she used to spend several minutes at the door awaiting her children's arrival. Now her smartphone sends a warning sound when the bus is within a one-mile radius, and she can head to the door as the bus is pulling up.
Saxton said the app can be programmed for a specific radius and it will give alarm when the bus enters that radius. Another feature is the alert that goes off when the bus arrives at school, letting parents know the children have arrived safely.
On Monday morning, school bus driver Wayne Finnie said he talked to five parents who were standing at the bus stop saying they tracked him coming.
"We don't get to see how it works as a driver," Finnie said. "We really can't control our end that well. My route has a lot of traffic lights and real heavy traffic. It is hard to hit each stop at the same time every day."
As for cost, Saxton said all 52 buses have been equipped with the GPS at a cost of $30 per month per bus. He said it was the utility bill that allowed Boardman to bring this service to parents.
"We have been wanting to do this for years so we renegotiated our gas and electric service," Saxton said. "We used the savings from that to provide the GPS service."
He added the program is available only to Boardman parents. To use the bus tracking app, the user must enter a student identification number, which then helps tie the child with the bus he or she is assigned to.
It also prevents outsiders from being able to use the app to track a bus, Saxton said.