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A Washington State School District

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Washington state School DistrictAlleviate Routing Pains with VersaTrans

A Washington School District Switches To Tyler's VersaTrans Routing & Planning

In August 2001, a school district in Washington State purchased a routing and planning software package with the hope of achieving the goals common to all pupil transportation departments: fast and accurate routing, cost-savings, and improved service. As part of a rapidly expanding district, they frequently added and altered routes. They knew that automation was the natural next step after years of hand-drawn routes that had to be manually updated with each change. The painstaking annual process of preparing routes was intensified by the need to have routes ready for senior drivers to bid on before the school year began.

After installing a software package that competes with VersaTrans Routing & Planning, the district immediately began having problems. For two consecutive years they tried using the software to build routes in time for the opening of school. But so many software issues came up each time they tried, they were never successful. The frustration level-and the stress level-among users was extremely high as they tried to work through simple routing processes.

As the district continued to drain their financial resources, members of the administration began to question the competency of the transportation staff. Routing and planning still continued by hand, data quality was poor and unreliable, and major district challenges went unaddressed. Finally a last attempt was made to get the system running. IT managers, transportation personnel and district administrators studied the problem closely. When all attempts to make the system functional failed, a decision was made to switch to VersaTrans.

When the district purchased VersaTrans in December 2002, it knew precisely what it wanted from a routing and planning package-and what it didn’t want. The list of requirements had been compiled based on what they weren’t able to accomplish with VersaTrans’ competitor over the previous two years.

Any doubts vanished when the conversion to VersaTrans was fast, professional and immediately provided the efficiency and functionality the district was looking for. “We were fully operational in 6 months,” says the district’s transportation director about the conversion, implementation and training process. By the end of May 2003, summer school routes were built and mailing cards went out to all the summer school students.

By summer 2003, the transportation department was ready for its next challenge: completing the routes for the regular school year. As in previous years, their goal was to have all the routes completed in time for route bidding. Complicating the process was the burden of running double shifts and the need to re-route mid-year to accommodate completion of a new school. In early August 2003, four days prior to deadline, all routes-including routes for double shifts and the new school-were finished and routes were ready for driver bidding.

The transportation department went on to complete the Washington state reports and student counts using VersaTrans. The complicated reports require multiple transportation elements including GPS coordinates for bus stops. Officials in the district were amazed. “I just couldn’t believe it worked,” says the transportation director, who admits being initially skeptical about whether VersaTrans would be able to deliver the functionality that the old system lacked. But the results of the VersaTrans implementation had such an immediate positive impact, that the district even abandoned its plans to run the old system in parallel with VersaTrans Routing and Planning. It simply wasn’t necessary.

With VersaTrans fully operational, the district has been able to achieve everything it couldn’t achieve before, and more. Student information is accurate, driver directions are easy to generate and use, and users can link directly from the student’s record to their location on the map. Also, according to the transportation director, “You can update information in one place and it updates everywhere else in the system.” VersaTrans allows the district to report on detailed student information, magnet school enrollments, or early dismissal schedules. He adds, “We can keep our routes up-to-date because the information we post is correct. It’s something we just couldn’t do before.”

In addition to the high performance of VersaTrans Routing and Planning, transportation personnel also benefit from top-notch support, which, according to the director, “has been very responsive, and the people we contact really know what they’re talking about. We now have truly quality support.” The transportation department relies on the expertise of VersaTrans when they have questions or need advice. The staff found that the training they received during the implementation process put them on the fast track to success, where they remain to this day.

The district is one of more than 150 districts in North America that chose to replace a competing software package with VersaTrans Routing and Planning. The professionalism, integrity and talents of the VersaTrans staff, along with the high quality products and services that the company provides, ensures that conversions go smoothly and efficiently, with as few interruptions as possible to a district’s existing operation. If your district is interested in making the switch from an existing routing and planning software to VersaTrans, please contact VersaTrans Sales at (518) 786-7766 or send email to sales@versatrans.com.



 

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