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Radnor Township School District

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Radnor Township School DistrictImprove your Operations with Tyler's VersaTrans Solution

Cost Savings and Efficiency Result From Radnor Township’s Use of VersaTrans

For Burt Blackburn, Transportation Director at Radnor Township School District, doing his job well means finding ways to increase the efficiency of the district’s transportation system wherever possible. Blackburn is responsible for moving more than 4,000 students to and from nearly 100 public and private schools in the Philadelphia area, where congestion can disrupt even the most carefully planned transportation plan - a fact the state acknowledges with additional transportation reimbursements to the district.

“It’s a challenge to make things work because we are in such a congested part of the state,” said Blackburn. “My goal each year is to not add any buses for the next year.”

Since 1998 Radnor Township has used Routing & Planning, VersaTrans’ cost-effective transportation software, for route planning, fleet scheduling and redistricting. VersaTrans has yielded yearly savings of $160,000 for Radnor Township School District and allowed Burt to not only meet but exceed his goal.

“The first year we used it to plan our routes we saved one bus, and I felt pretty good about that,” said Blackburn. “We saved in payroll, hours and benefits because we didn’t need another driver and we freed up a vehicle for other uses like sports trips. The next year we were able to eliminate two full-day routes and one midday route.”

Prior to implementing Routing & Planning, the district’s daily bus routes were manually designed. The district recognized the limitations of this method and the pressing need for routing software.

“I knew that the only way to hold steady on buses was to use a system like this,” said Blackburn, referring to the Routing & Planning software. “Before we didn’t have a graphic depiction of what was going on - no maps. What we needed was to be able to create bus routes and see them graphically before we ran them.”

Routing & Planning was selected over competing routing programs because of its ease of use and affordability according to Blackburn. The software consolidates and simplifies complex transportation planning functions into one easy-to-use program that allows planners to produce multiple routing scenarios and choose the most efficient one.

The software’s One Touch Routing feature takes user-defined variables and automatically produces a baseline routing plan that can be manually adjusted to integrate knowledge of local factors that affect routing. One Touch Routing, unique to VersaTrans’ transportation software, not only simplifies route planning, it enhances it by generating scenarios that planners may not be able to visualize or may not otherwise consider.

“Sometimes you look at a problem and think ‘How am I ever going to do that?’” said Blackburn. “One Touch Routing gives you some alternate solutions - different ideas on how to do something. I like it because we can change a couple of parameters a little and it gives us something we didn’t see right off. It is a great way to get ideas.”

The software’s robust and flexible student files - another key feature - link seamlessly with maps and boundary data making it easy to incorporate changes and updates to routing plans while maintaining their efficiencies.

“The program maintains data very well,” said Blackburn. “It’s very accurate and helps us to keep track of students, rosters and routes so that we can quickly answer questions from parents or schools. It’s also very adaptable to changing inputs. Once you feed them in - new students, new stops - it takes a minimal amount of time to make that addition and everything is done. The student record is there, bus routes are updated - that’s tremendous.”

Fleet scheduling and redistricting have also been made easier and more efficient since Routing & Planning was implemented.

“We use fleet scheduling to see where we have open blocks of time in order to utilize buses better,” said Blackburn. “The graphics makes it easier to see where we can possibly trade one middle school route for another and make the overall routing more efficient. I used to do it on a graph - it worked, but it was very tedious.”

Radnor Township planners relied heavily on the program’s powerful reporting and sorting capabilities to evaluate various boundary options when the addition of a third elementary school called for redistricting. The program generated twelve different boundary options, each reflecting different data as the main redistricting criteria, allowing planners to choose the option that achieved the most balanced student body mix in the resulting schools.

VersaTrans’ highly responsive customer support also sets the company apart, according to Blackburn who has experience with two other routing software vendors.

“VersaTrans is quick in responding,” he said. “It doesn’t take three phone calls to reach someone, then days to get an answer like some other companies. They call me back within an hour almost consistently, even during the crunch times in August.”

No matter what the application - route planning, redistricting or fleet scheduling - VersaTrans is helping Burt Blackburn do a better job of making the Radnor Township School District transportation system run efficiently year to year.

“We purchased VersaTrans to discover efficiencies and the program has helped us dramatically,” said Blackburn. “VersaTrans does a great job.”


 

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