June 22, 2024

3 Principles of Routing Software to Help You Find Efficiency

Author: Ryan Smithson
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I haven’t met a single bus driver, route coordinator, or transportation director who isn’t 100 percent focused on service. However, the more accommodating we are for our parents and students, the less efficient our operation can become. Service and safety are paramount, yet with budget constraints and a nation-wide driver shortage, every school district in the country is asking transportation professionals to do more with less. So what do you do?

The answer, in part, can be K-12
routing software
. Routing software can be a place where student assignments
can be automated the most efficient way, while
still accounting for their safety
. In order to achieve that difficult
balance, the right routing software should easily operate with at least these
three principles:

  1. Student
    safety should be built in
    . I mean built on the map and in parameters that
    govern stop and route assignments. Not manually by routers. Your routing
    software should know that your four-lane highway cutting through town is unsafe
    for students to cross, every time, every run. It should know that SPED students
    need a curb-to-curb, rightside pickup, every time, every student. Manual
    decisions should be allowed, but they should be the exception, not the rule. If
    your routers spend all their time accounting for their local knowledge
    of safety hazards, then they’re not spending time figuring out better routing
  2. What-if scenarios
    shouldn’t require a computer science degree
    . I’ve talked to so many
    transportation professionals who tell me that running a bell time study takes
    their entire summer. If bell times are built into the software, then you should
    be able to easily copy them into a separate scenario to see how changes might
    affect your operation. And it should take minutes, not months. Similarly, if
    you want to modify boundaries and switch up routes, you should be able to do it
    the same database
    , and you shouldn’t need a working knowledge of SQL
    programming for it to work.
  3. Reporting
    should be powerful and customizable
    . Having data is great, but using data is a whole different mindset.
    When you can pull information into different reports, you can analyze where the
    gaps are, and, once you’ve built a what-if scenario, you can measure
    improvements with KPIs
    . The two key questions for software vendors are:
    “Show me your most useful canned reports that help me see where I can be more
    efficient” and “Show me how I can build a custom report myself, easily, in the

If your current software operates with these principles,
then you’re in a perfect position to find efficiencies this year. If it can’t, then
you may benefit from this
where three panelists will discuss how they use software to build
better routes, confront the driver shortage, and operate more productively.
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