The crisp morning air fills with chatter as children across the country line up on sidewalks and await that familiar yellow bus to roll around the corner. While the iconic school bus—a relic of childhood—has barely changed in look and feel over the last few decades, the management of these vehicles has modernized tremendously.
Today, school bus fleet management involves intricate telematics systems—data tracking systems—to ensure proper safety, route efficiency, and even compliance. That said, there are plenty of benefits of fleet telematics when it comes to operating school buses.
So, to ensure every child arrives at school on time, let’s review school bus fleet management and the fleet management software and tools behind its success.
What Is a School Bus Fleet Management System?
School bus fleet management systems refer to the technological tools you can use to keep track of your fleet. A simple example of this is the GPS trackers that show operators where each vehicle in the fleet is at any given time.
However, fleet management goes beyond basic GPS tracking.
Fleet telematics devices installed across all vehicles track various data metrics and then centralize this information in one central dashboard. This provides fleet operators with the information they need for all school buses 1:
- Driving tendencies, including any hard braking or fast acceleration
- Bus route information, including hard turns or traffic issues
- Information on fleet fuel management (like fuel usage and efficiency)
- Potential issues with the vehicle
Should any concern arise—such as a school bus breakdown, late arrival or drop-off, or unsafe driving—the telematics system will notify the operators, providing them the information they need to make swift decisions.
Why Is School Bus Fleet Management Important?
Implementing telematics can provide you with a great deal of data about your fleet and its performance. However, until the data is analyzed and trends are considered, that data remains just dots on a graph.
With proper fleet management, you can leverage telematics to 2:
- Guarantee safety – One of the most important facets of school bus fleet management is optimizing your vehicles and drivers for leading safety procedures. With real-time transit data, you can ensure that buses stop and pick up in safe areas and that drivers opt for driving the safest routes. Operators are informed of any necessary vehicle and bus maintenance requirements before problems arise. In addition, fleet operators can learn more about their drivers’ tendencies to advance their fleet safety solutions. This can lead to more effective communication and higher safety standards.
- Improve performance – Fleet performance can be measured across several key metrics, including route efficiency, traffic avoidance, fuel savings, fleet maintenance checks, and more. With a systematized approach, operators can gather months of data to tackle each element, slowly building a well-oiled fleet (figuratively and literally).
- Regulate compliance – Different cities have different laws regulating school buses. If your school bus fleet operates across city lines or in multiple local zoning ordinances, you’ll need to ensure you’re compliant across both sets of regulations. Additionally, with telematics systems, you can ensure drivers aren’t overworked, speed limits are being followed, and vehicle emissions are up to regulation.
How to Use Telematics to Manage a School Bus Fleet
Managing a school bus fleet requires all the technical skills of running any organization, on top of the ability to analyze and report on data. That said, once you have the telematics system, this should enhance your management capabilities.
To start using telematics:
- Decide what you want from your telematics – As noted above, telematics can provide insight into any number of areas of your fleet operation. If you want to focus on route safety, for example, you can use GPS data to track pick-ups and stops, as well as vehicle velocity data to ensure all speed limits are being adhered to. Determine what information will be most useful to you and then obtain the necessary devices to install in your fleet.
- Look at different software plans – While the hardware provides the data, the software is what allows you to manage and utilize that data. There are multiple fuel card management systems and software options in the market, so identify the software that provides you with the actionable insights needed to manage your fleet.
- Install the devices and start measuring – Telematics devices typically can be installed by the operators. However, it’s important to note that incorrect installation can lead to misleading or inaccurate data. It may be worth paying an installation fee to ensure everything is correct. Also, many companies will offer free installation when you sign up for their software contract.
Once the devices are installed and your software is ready, you can start tracking the data. You may also find that the benefits of school bus fleet management exceeded your expectations and opt to add to your telematics package in the future or even utilize a transport fleet manager to maximize your benefits 3.
Manage Fuel and Operations Smarter with AtoB
Piecing together a proper school bus fleet involves a ton of moving parts. One critical aspect? Ensuring your fleet is fully equipped for the routes ahead.
With fuel cards from AtoB, you can refuel your vehicles anywhere Visa is accepted and have access to fuel discounts. That’s what our mission is: We help fuel your operations. Fill out your AtoB fuel card application today!
Azuga. 7 Easy Ways to Optimize Any School Bus Fleet. https://www.azuga.com/blog/how-to-optimize-school-bus-fleet
Business News Daily. Best GPS Fleet Tracking Software and Systems for 2022. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8291-best-gps-fleet-tracking-systems.html
Verizon Connect. What is Telematics? https://www.verizonconnect.com/resources/article/what-is-telematics/
1 Verizon Connect. What is Telematics? https://www.verizonconnect.com/resources/article/what-is-telematics/
2 Business News Daily. Best GPS Fleet Tracking Software and Systems for 2022. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8291-best-gps-fleet-tracking-systems.html
3 Azuga. 7 Easy Ways to Optimize Any School Bus Fleet. https://www.azuga.com/blog/how-to-optimize-school-bus-fleet