PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Pender County Schools is preparing to launch a new bus tracking app county-wide after piloting the program at the Penderlea School since the start of the school year.
“Here Comes the Bus” allows parents to download the app and log in with two security codes: one specifically for their school and one specifically for their child. Parents can then set a radius between 250 feet and two miles and they’ll receive an alert and an email whenever their child’s bus enters the set radius.
School system administrators say it’s a form of communication unlike any they’ve had before. The app will allow students to stay inside longer when it’s raining, and if the bus doesn’t show up when it’s expected, parents can easily check to see if there’s been a delay or if they missed the bus’ stop at their house.
In the event of a mechanical issue or other problem, school administrators are able to send messages specifically to the parents of students on one bus, letting them know what’s going on and how long their child’s bus may be delayed.
The software uses GPS tracking and the bus routes refresh every night. Buses often get delayed if a substitute bus driver is called in to drive an unfamiliar route.
“Before, they had a paper sheet, route sheet, and the sub was trying to read the sheet, maintain order on the bus, but now they’ll be able to view the route through tablets mounted in every bus with each stop labeled plainly with the names of the students assigned to get on and off the bus at those stops," Pender County School’s Transportation Director Brandon Smith said.
The district used the year-round Penderlea School as a pilot program.
“It’s been great for Penderlea and we’re hoping it’ll be great for the rest of the district as well,” spokesperson Alex Riley said.
Jewell Horton’s 6-year-old son attends Penderlea and she says she’s using the app every day he’s in school.
“Its super simple. It was really easy. I don’t think I’ve had any issues, it’s pretty much worked since we started using it,” Horton said. “Sometimes they have delays, traffic, bus troubles, [and] we’re not sitting here going ‘Are we wasting our time waiting for the bus and we missed it?'”
Riley says parents can expect to receive information on how to sign up for accounts in the Here Comes the Bus app on Friday and the program will be up and running for the entire county on Monday.