Technology aims to boost fleet of buses

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Not that big yellow school buses are easy to miss, but the Columbia County school system made tracking the vehicles even easier this year.

The school system's transportation department has equipped its fleet of 175 buses with global positioning systems.

Transportation officials installed GPS on their 45 special education buses in July and added the technology to 130 more buses in January.

"I've had very few complaints," Dewayne Porter, the transportation department director, said.

Mr. Porter said the technology is helping the transportation department improve safety and efficiency and reduce costs. For example, he said, GPS reduces the amount of paperwork that bus drivers must complete each day and saves on the cost of diesel fuel, which is more than $3 per gallon.

"Right now, we're in experimentation mode, and we're learning exactly what this thing can do for us," Mr. Porter said.

He said the benefits will be more evident when the new school year begins in August and he can do month-by-month comparisons between this year and next year.

"We're looking forward to seeing what it will do for us in the long term," he said.

The Richmond County school system should have all of its 225 buses equipped with GPS by late April, said Benton Starks, the facilities director.

Maria McClure, the Aiken County school system district transportation manager, said the South Carolina Department of Education is in the process of installing GPS on the state's school buses. She said it is expected to be complete in Aiken County by next year.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (706) 868-1222, ext. 113, or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.

advantages of gps
Global positioning systems on school buses let officials:
- Take immediate action in an emergency
- Monitor bus location
- Adjust schedules
- Provide information to parents and the public
- Monitor school arrival and departure times
- Monitor fleet mileage
- Confirm, monitor and adjust route times
- Review, monitor and minimize unnecessary idle time

Source: Columbia County Board of Education transportation department

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