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Eaton Rapids Public School District, Austintown Local School District & Oak Ridge School District

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Eaton Rapids Public School District, Austintown Local School District & Oak Ridge School DistrictSave Precious Budget Dollars with Tyler's VersaTrans

VersaTrans Helps School Districts Check In with Time and Cost Savings

Eaton Rapids Public School District

Carol Miller, Transportation Supervisor for Eaton Rapids Public School District in Michigan, appreciates quick results - and gets them using VersaTrans. A few years ago she chose VersaTrans to replace a competitive routing and planning solution and almost immediately realized cost savings.

“In our first year of using VersaTrans we were able to cut three bus routes and save $33,000,” Miller said. And the savings continue year over year.

Miller said with VersaTrans she easily designed efficient and balanced routes by inputting variables and letting the program automatically produce optimal routes. “Previously we had routes crossing each other and buses traveling down the same street. VersaTrans eliminated those inefficiencies.”

Miller also praised the flexibility and versatility of the program. She used VersaTrans to produce accurate student lists to help solve a complex transfer problem. Eaton Rapids is a 120-square mile, largely rural district. In the afternoon, students are picked up at their schools and bused to a central depot, where they transfer onto another bus to one of the seven schools clustered around the center of town.

“The integration of student data into the program made it easy to produce lists so students and drivers all know who gets on which transfer bus,” Miller said. “We used to have kids getting on the wrong bus which presented a safety problem. Now we have an added layer of safety and security if there are any kids missing, a discipline problem or an accident.”

Austintown Local School District

Since implementing VersaTrans RP several years ago, Colleen Murphy has reduced her district’s budget by $400,000. As Transportation Director for Austintown Local Schools, she did this by heavily relying on the planning portion of the software. Using current and future data, she could create and analyze multiple interconnected “what if” routing scenarios pertaining to students and their locations, geography, buildings, boundaries and population.

Using VersaTrans RP’s features, Murphy was able to consolidate bus stops and combine the non-public and public transportation between schools in her district. She decreased about 800 daily miles -- approximately 142,000 miles per year. Eliminating eight drivers saved the district wages and benefits. Cutting eight buses saved on vehicle wear-and-tear as well as fuel and maintenance costs. Furthermore, this consolidation increased the spare busing available for field trips.

Murphy praises VersaTrans RP, saying it is very user-friendly. “You do not have to be a technology-guru to operate the program.” Custom report wizards and detailed data tracking take the guesswork out of many decisions and make information readily available.

She points out that the most important factor to her is accountability. “So many schools out there do not have accountability. With this program we can account for every student at every school on every run.”

With 42 buses servicing eight public schools and several non-public and community schools within the district, transporting 4,800 students has become easier. She adds that VersaTrans RP’s full student tracking is one of the best features. It is extremely beneficial to Murphy to be able to record students’ special needs, medical data, and alternative pick-up and drop-off variations. In addition, the customized student database records stop locations, school locations, grade levels and bell times for each individual.

Oak Ridge School District

In Oak Ridge School District, Tennessee, Supervisor of Transportation Fred Wells, now retired, faced a unique situation. In 1997 the district moved from charging money for children to ride the bus to offering free bus service. Although drivers no longer had to collect cash or tickets from each rider, suddenly the number of children riding school buses increased 40 percent.

The overall transportation budget increased to accommodate the increased number of riders, but to keep transportation costs under control, Wells chose VersaTrans and the district has been using it ever since.

“We used to draw out routes by hand and add stops where the kids would wait for the bus,” Wells explained. “We really had no idea where the students actually lived and we were wasting money by running some buses where they didn’t need to go. Once we started using VersaTrans we knew exactly where each student lived and could route more precisely and efficiently to maintain better control over transportation costs.”

Oak Ridge routes 37 buses on a regular basis, transporting 5,000 students to eight different schools. VersaTrans is used every day to add new students and edit routes. Ease of use leading to time savings is sited as one of VersaTrans’ greatest attributes. “I could have a child’s information in front of me in a few seconds; I could look at and adjust routes as needed with a few clicks.”

He also said that during summer he really put VersaTrans through its paces. Kindergartners who had received door-to-door service are allocated to bus stops for first grade, elementary school students are moved to middle schools and graduating middle school students must be routed to high schools.

“It was a complex and time-consuming problem to change all those routes, but VersaTrans automated the entire process,” Wells said.

“VersaTrans is by far the district’s most important tool. I’ve seen other routing software but have never seen anything to convince me there’s something better.”


 

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