An application called Here Comes the Bus is making student drop-off and pickup a better experience for Gahanna-Jefferson school district families.
The app allows the parents of bus riders to view the real-time location of their child's school bus on a smartphone, tablet or computer using GPS technologies available on district buses, said Judy Hengstebeck, district communications coordinator.
Here Comes the Bus confirms the child's bus has arrived at the bus stop, at school or both, she said.
The app is free to families and can be downloaded at the App Store or Google Play.
Jason Kee, district transportation supervisor, said the district became interested in the app as a result of comments received from parents, staff and the administrative team and from concerns of the district transportation office.
"We saw the need for something like this over the summer, and we took steps to begin putting this program into place," he said. "We were aware of other districts that were using the app, so while we were in the planning phase this summer, I reached out to several for some feedback."
Thus far, Kee said, the feedback has been positive regarding the app that was made available Nov. 21.
"It is easy to use and if there are any inconsistencies for a student's bus or schedule, we are able to easily make the correction," Kee said. "The schedule correction is available on the app for the parent within a day or two."
The district has more than 650 accounts that have been created using the app, according to Kee.
Sara Herbert, parent of two Blacklick Elementary School students, said she has had a really good experience with the app.
"My kids ride the bus in the afternoon," she said. "I set notifications, so I know when I need to leave the house."
Herbert said she changed some settings because she knew her children's bus would be late Dec. 3.
"As soon as I got notification, I went out the door and got to the stop and here came the bus," she said. "I based (pickup) on the app, not the time. It was perfect. With the cold weather coming, it's huge. I'm glad it exists."
Kee said he has been very pleased with the app thus far.
"It has been useful to give out information to parents, such as if there is a substitute driver or if a different bus is on the route," he said. "It will be even more instrumental on days when there is inclement weather and road conditions are delaying our buses. If the air temperature is cold, parents will have more accurate information about where their student's bus is."
Hengstebeck said the district has 4,161 bus riders this year.
"Our school bus drivers travel over 4,700 miles every day across 60 different bus routes," she said.
"As amazing as our bus drivers are, occasionally there may be delays. Our families can now use the app to set a radius around their bus stop.
"Once the bus enters that radius, families can receive a notification that the bus is in the area and send their children out the door to the bus stop," she said.
Families can find more information about Here Comes the Bus as well as directions on how to get started using the app at gahannaschools.org/District/HereComesTheBus.aspx.
Families are encouraged to contact the district transportation department at 614-751-7581 with any questions.