Big yellow buses go high-tech as the new school year begins

August 29, 2019 09:04 AM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - As kids head back to school, parents put their trust in the big yellow bus and the person behind the wheel.

Mike Conley has been driving for the Saratoga Springs City School District for five years now.

"It's a little harder than driving a car. There's a lot more responsibility to it," said Conley.

Recent changes in technology on-board have made his job a little easier.

"When you have a set route it will actually get through that route through the day and make sure you don't miss anybody, don't miss any stops. It took a lot of the student management worries out of the job," said Conley.

The district is the first in the state to roll out Tyler Drive, a new operating system that not only gives drivers turn by turn directions for their routes, but also has kids scanning on and off the bus every day.

Parents can download the MyStop App and monitor their child's ride in real time.

The district first started using the software as part of a pilot program about a year and a half ago. They slowly phased in all of the schools and this year it will be fully operational.

"This just gives the parents an extra tool to be able to monitor that a little more closely and know if their children are safely at home in the afternoon and are safely at school in the morning," said Jeffrey Wainwright, assistant director of transportation for the district.

Wainwright says the on board tablet will notify the driver if a child is getting off at the wrong stop or on the wrong bus. Parents will get text alerts if a bus is running late.

The district says kids, parents, and drivers have embraced the changes.

"We firmly believe that it's one of the hardest jobs in the world," said Wainwright. "Our drivers do it well every day. They take this job very seriously as if they were their own children."

For Conley, the new technology makes the driver's seat an even better place to be.

Get an up-close look at the new technology by watching the video of Jacquie Slater's story.


WNYT Staff

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