West Genesee Central School District Continues Focus on School Transportation Safety and Convenience with Plans to Purchase Buses with Accident Avoidance Technology and Launch of Smartphone App for Students and Parents
West Genesee Central School District (WGCSD) is planning to purchase eleven new school buses, following the school budget vote on May 21, equipped with the latest electronic stability control and collision mitigation systems. The District has also launched a new school bus mobile app which will allow parents and students to easily get school bus and route information from their smartphones or similar device.
“The most important thing we do each day as a District is make sure our students get to and from school safely,” said WGCSD Transportation Supervisor, James Dark. “We are seeing tremendous advancements in school bus safety and rider technology; tools that our highly trained and experienced drivers will use to help us provide the safest school transportation possible.”
With an almost perfect New York State Department of Transportation safety rating (99%), WGCSD operates approximately 100 school buses and transports 4,761 school children with 83 drivers and 26 aides.
“It takes a lot of education, training and commitment to have a near perfect safety rating,” said Janet Troup, Safety Officer at WGCSD. “I think we have the best school transportation team in the business. They are so dedicated and are consistently going above and beyond, for example, the state requires a two-hour refresher course, we typically go at least four-hours and include hands-on training as well.”
In addition to state-mandated training, the school district also conducts rescue drills with smoke-filled buses, active shooter training on school buses, and is working to combat drivers who illegally pass school buses by having police officers do ride-alongs to catch drivers who are putting children in harm’s way.
GPS has become a great school bus safety tool as well for WGCSD. All of the District’s school vehicles are equipped with GPS systems, which shows the dispatchers exactly where they are in real time. GPS shows when the brakes are applied, when crossing lights are activated, and the speed of the vehicle. The District can even tell if a school bus actually stopped at a scheduled location.
“While safety is our number one priority, we also try our best to make sure we are providing convenient and efficient school transportation for the school district,” said Dark. “Mobile technology has evolved to a point where it is now affordable for us to provide our parents and students a school bus mobile app that will allow them to see their bus number, and their scheduled pick-up, and drop-off times from their smartphone or similar device.”
WGCSD recently launched a new smartphone app called My Stop. In the past, each student received a printed letter with their transportation information for the upcoming school year; but now they will log into the My Stop app to get their school transportation information.
Again, as stated above, the new buses will be equipped with the latest electronic stability control and collision mitigation technology. The system works to help prevent accidents by using radar to assist the driver by automatically applying the brakes to avoid slides, skids, and loss of control; it will also alert the driver when an unsafe following distance has been reached with another vehicle or if there are stationary objects in the lane ahead.
The District has also outfitted their entire fleet with supplemental warning lights which greatly increases visibility to other drivers when the bus is stopped.