North Royalton becomes latest district to put GPS on buses

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NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio (WJW)-- A new smart phone app called Here Comes the Bus is giving parents in the North Royalton School District the ability to know exactly when their children’s school buses will be picking them up in the morning and dropping them off after school.

“More and more districts are adapting GPS technology for the safety of the drivers and the students. It’s a good way to have information readily available at your fingertips, in the event of an emergency or any sort of situation that may arise, “ said North Royalton Transportation Supervisor Greg Hovan.

North Royalton Schools is investing a total of $114,000 over the next five years to lease GPS devices for each of the district’s 65 buses and its small fleet of vans.

Proponents of the app said it will make it easier to keep students safe during inclement weather.

"We always say you should be out at the stop five minutes before your time, just in case the bus is running a little early. But you know when there’s a snow storm, or rain, this is a tremendous advantage by seeing when the bus is going through a development, so you can take that extra time to keep your student dry," Superintendent Greg Gurka said.

The app is also allowing the district to monitor each route in real time and make sure bus drivers are obeying traffic laws.

“So we know if the bus activated its amber warning lights, if the door opened, if the stop sign came out, if a parking brake was set. All things the drivers have to do at every bus stop,” Hovan said.

District officials said they believe the new app’s eye in the sky will help ensure that its buses are being operated safely and settle disputes that come up each school year.

“Typically from time to time, we do get the question of ‘The bus never came to my bus stop.’ Well, now we have concrete evidence whether the bus did or did not arrive at the stop,” Hovan said. “Also from time to time, the big diesel engines make a lot of noise. People think the bus may be speeding, and we can confirm or deny those claims as well.”

The Here Comes the Bus app is free, and so far, 800 families in North Royalton are using it.

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