School Board to Purchase School Bus Tracking System

July 16, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Kelly Lee
Zonar School Bus Inspection and Tracking System

The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night voted to purchase a Transportation Software program from Zonar Systems to better keep track of school buses, monitoring where they are located at all times, and recording excessive idle times, excessive speeding, etc. in order to cut down on fuel costs and to speed up repairs. It also automates and verifies bus inspections.

Kelly Lee, a representative of Zonar, addressed the board of education Thursday night. According to Lee, this GPS/Cell phone based tracking system simplifies the entire pre and post trip inspection process of a school bus. It is easy to use and captures and stores fleet performance data. The cost is $27,127. "Its basically a cell phone based system that we use to monitor fuel costs and excessive idle times, excessive speeding, and location reporting., " said Lee.

"We use what we call a zone based system that can tell where the bus is at as far as school zones and where the bus is at as far as drive out or drive home. Anything to do with where the vehicle is at during all times, we can tell you where its at. Is it running? Is it using excessive amounts of fuel? Is it speeding? Primarily is it speeding in school zones or anywhere where there is a reduced speed zone? It can tell you that," said Lee.

" If it (bus) leaves a location its not supposed to leave, it can tell you that. Totaling fuel mileage, totaling hard braking, it (system) can do all that. Also part of the request is an inspection system that ensures that all of the drivers do an entire physical inspection on the whole bus and that every inspection they do, whether it be a special needs bus or a straight bus, that everybody is doing the same inspection and a physical walk around of the vehicle. Pre-trip, post-trip, student/child check, anything like that, they (bus drivers) have to do a physical walk around of the vehicle. Its all paperless. Its all accessible on the Internet and if any driver gets pulled over by the DOT (Department of Transportation), we (Zonar) are approved in all fifty states for the DOT to view up to thirteen inspections on the system," according to Lee.

"Its cell phone based so there are situations where you won't have cell phone service but in an event where you don't have cell phone service, the system is still actually working and once you get into an area where you do have cell phone service, it recovers all the information. So none of the information is lost and its all gathered.," said Lee.

"We've got a system that we've worked with in Chicago called Freeport School System and they saved 21% on their fuel last year alone. When you're talking 21% of a fuel bill at four dollars a gallon, its a pretty hefty number. I guarantee you that the system will pay for itself or we will take it back. Part of the quote is to have two people come in and train for two days on how to use the system and if you utilize the system I can promise you, from a savings standpoint, you're going to pay for the system and when you're ensuring that every driver is doing a physical inspection every day and you know how long it has taken them in each area, and in each location you know exactly what they're riding in and you don't have to rely on a hand written inspection, you know you can view it at any time, just the safety in that alone is worth that. From the day you get the system or even a year from then, if you get a call from someone who says a certain bus was speeding in our neighborhood a year ago, all you have to do is get the address, plug it in and we can know how fast that bus was going and what time it went through there. All the information is valid based on our GPS software," according to Lee.

Meanwhile on another issue, the school board members discussed but tabled for now a proposal to offer basic life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment coverage for all employees at a monthly cost of $710 to the school system. Under the plan, each employee would be covered for a flat $10,000 for Life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment coverage. The cost per employee per month is $1.44 for the Life coverage and 17 cents per employee per month ($1.61 combined for the $10,000 of coverage), based on the census provided there are 457 employees who would be covered equating to a monthly cost of $710.66 (Basic Life and AD&D combined). These quoted rates are guaranteed for three years.

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