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D-47, 155 buses go high-tech

CRYSTAL LAKE – School Districts 47 and 155 were awarded a $50,000 grant to outfit their fleet with state-of-the art global positioning system software.

The software, called an Electronic Vehicle Inspection Report, is operated by Seattle-based company Zonar and will be installed on the districts’ 150 buses.

The GPS system will track buses and students as they enter and exit. It will ensure only registered riders board the buses.

Additionally, the system can track bus mileage, idle times, heavy braking and fast takeoffs. This will determine whether the bus routes are the most efficient, and ultimately will cut down on fuel use.

“We felt this was pretty valuable,” D-155’s Operations Manager Jeff Carr said. “It will help us as we start to more closely monitor our financial expenses. It helps us with efficiency of routing as things start to change, and helps provide us with weekly monthly and annual [data] on fuel, idling time, efficiency of the route and more.”

The software also will track whether or when a driver deviates from a route. Currently, when a complaint is received, a manager will observe the driver by following the bus, using a radar gun and a number of other time-consuming measures. Now, managers in the Transportation Joint Agreement can take act immediately on complaints.

The system replaces the paper-based pre- and post-stop vehicle inspections.

“The old method relies solely on the thoroughness of the driver and leaves room for error and neglect,” said Penny Fleming, TJA’s assistant director of transportation. “Zonar’s EVIR system will permit drivers and the mechanical staff to better perform their duties in a proactive rather than reactive manner.”

The shared TJA Board accepted the grant and approved spending $25,000 a year, or $12,500 each, on maintenance.

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