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Chester County Intermediate Unit

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Chester County Intermediate UnitSee the Whole Picture with Tyler's VersaTrans

VersaTrans’ “What-If” Capabilities
Help Chester County Schools Realize Significant Savings

Several years ago transportation planners at the Chester County Intermediate Unit - an organization that provides educational, administrative and support services to the county’s 12 school districts as well as area non-public schools - saw an opportunity to save money. VersaTrans helped them seize that opportunity.

Pennsylvania state law requires public school districts to provide transportation to non-public students attending any school within ten miles of their district’s boundary. This had created a somewhat inefficient system with individual districts running barely-filled buses over long distances. Planners recognized that combining non-public school students from different districts into single buses offered the potential for significant savings.

They also recognized that with 6500 non-public students attending 100 different schools, finding workable combinations that accommodated widely dispersed students and schools, local geography, and varying bell times would not be easy.

“We felt there was the potential to save a lot of money but we were looking at kids from multiple districts going to schools all over the place,” said Denise Delaney, Transportation Manager at the Chester County Intermediate Unit. “Crunching it by hand would have been a miserable experience - there aren’t that many different colored push pins. We needed routing software.”

Tyler's VersaTrans Routing & Planning, a flexible and easy-to-use software program that lets transportation planners perform extensive “what-if” analysis to determine the most feasible routes, was chosen to meet this challenge.


One Touch Routing (OTR), a feature unique to VersaTrans’ routing software, dramatically simplifies route planning by automatically generating the most cost-effective routes based on any number of user-defined inputs. OTR allows users to quickly and accurately develop a base plan to which manual adjustments can be made based on planners’ familiarity with local factors - like geography and traffic patterns - that can affect transportation plans.

“One Touch Routing was critical,” said Delaney. “There was no way we could have gone in by hand and generated the number of scenarios that we did. The process flew!” Not only was OTR a significant time saver, it was highly accurate too.

“For the most part what we ended up with was similar to what we came up with from One Touch Routing,” said Delaney. “And we weren’t looking at a straightforward situation - the kids were really spread out.”

OTR had streamlined complex student, boundary and map data, quickly transforming it into “what-if” routing scenarios to be evaluated by each individual school district. Within a very short time frame the Chester Intermediate Unit and its client school districts were able to launch a pilot program to transport 1600 non-public students from 5 different school districts to 20 schools. The pilot program confirmed what planners at the Intermediate Unit had suspected - that significant savings could indeed be achieved.

“By our figures we saved about $106,000 yearly,” said Delaney. “We think it was pretty substantial for what we were running and how much we saved.”

Planners had taken advantage of many of the software’s flexible, robust, and user-friendly features in addition to One Touch Routing. Of particular value were the flexibility of custom reports, the software’s extensive sorting capabilities and the ease of importing and exporting data between files.

“We used everything on it - multiple student files, map updates, driver directions, custom reports.” said Delaney. “We were able to generate a report with any information on any student for anyone that asked.”

VersaTrans’ qualified technical support also factored into the Intermediate Unit’s ability to launch this pilot program so rapidly. Superior technical support is another defining feature of the VersaTrans Routing & Planning solution.

“I don’t think we came up with a single problem that wasn’t solved in 24 hours,” said Delaney. “VersaTrans’ tech support is awesome.”

After the initial pilot year, the Chester County school districts resumed individually transporting non-public students, a result of transportation contract issues rather than any question about whether the pilot was a success according to Delaney.

Planners at the Intermediate Unit now put Routing & Planning’s what-if capabilities to work designing routes for the county’s 500 special education students from 25 school districts attending 75 different schools and programs. Here again VersaTrans simplifies a dizzying array of data and transforms it into viable routing plans.

“If you look at the map on the wall in my office it’s just unbelievable, these kids are going everywhere,” said Delaney. “VersaTrans works out very well - I really like the program.”


 

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