From first day disaster to best in state: How one county's school transportation fleet made a rapid turnaround

Imagine what would happen in your own county if, on the first day of school, thousands of students did not have a ride or accurate bus route information and a significant portion of the fleet had failed state inspections. Greg Agen, logistics manager for Griffin-Spalding County Schools, faced the aftermath of that very scenario when he joined the district in 2013.

Since that time, Agen and his team at Griffin-Spalding moved from an opening-day disaster to a transportation fleet that is now recognized by the Georgia Department of Public Safety as one of the best in the state. Here's how.

Fewer, More Efficient Routes and Other Cost Savings
Agen used integrated technology to facilitate the fleet's significant turnaround and create new efficiencies and improved processes. The benefits of modern technology solutions in the county have, to date, included:
  • Reduction of 11 routes
  • Revenue increase of 22% from activity trips
  • $400,000 annual savings
These outcomes are made possible through optimized routes, verified student information, well-organized activity trips, and improved maintenance and inspection processes for buses.

Integrated systems save costs not just on reduced routes, but in driver compliance. With GPS, Agen can compare route plans with actual driver patterns and work with drivers to adhere to schedules. Because parents, too, can track their students' buses, kids no longer have to stand street-side for lengthy amounts of time. Everyone can see where the bus is and when it will arrive.

Actionable Data
In addition to technology that reduced the number of buses on the road, Agen's team implemented a Geotab™ dashboard that automatically alerts the fleet manager if a bus has a maintenance issue, such as a water temperature or oil pressure problem. "I don't know how much money we've saved just because we know that a bus is overheating, and the driver didn't call it in, or any other type of mechanical issue that might be on the bus," Agen said.

The functionality also surfaces new types of data for improved insight. This has proven particularly useful when buses are idling. "There are laws for idling," noted Agen, "but getting people to adhere to them is another thing." Griffin-Spalding's new technology alerts Agen whenever a driver idles too long. "It sends me an email message," Agen explained. Agen then gives the idling driver a written notice. "We've reduced our idling cost from $600 a week to less than $100 a week," he noted. "That's a big savings."

Speed is, of course, another useful data point to have at your fingertips. Agen uses his software to create speed reports. He is automatically notified if a driver goes more than 20 miles over the posted speed limit, a data point he was able to customize depending upon location. In the garage parking lot, for instance, a geo fence generates a report if a bus moves faster than 10 miles over the speed limit in the lot or garage area.

"All that data is put together at the end of the year," Agen explained, "and driver evaluations are based on idling, harsh braking, harsh cornering, harsh acceleration, and speeding."

Driver Protection
"It's amazing the amount of data that that system has in it, and we don't want to make it a negative thing to try to use it against the driver all the time," Agen said. In fact, in the case of one accident, the district's data proved the bus driver was not at fault.

When a car collided with a school bus, the district's data showed that the bus was not moving, therefore did not cause the accident. Having that data at hand saved the district from a potentially damaging lawsuit. Because the system sends a message to key staff when there are changes in a bus's accelerometer, Agen and his team know about potential accidents before the driver can even radio an incident in.

The changes implemented in Griffin-Spalding saved money, optimized routes, enhanced safety, and protected the district from liability. Hear more from Agen in this 3-minute video about how he used technology to streamline processes and achieve significant, measurable ROI. For questions please contact Tyler Technologiesí association manager Brian Aylward.