BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Bentonville School District is installing a new safety and utility feature in its entire fleet of school buses. The program is called Transportant.
Bentonville is the first school district in the state to use Transportant. Jason Salmons in the transportation director for the Bentonville School District. He gave an interactive presentation Thursday morning, explaining how the system would work.
“In the past we’ve never had this type of communication— that safety between parents and students on the bus,” said Salmons.
Salmons said the system will help parents know where their kids are at all times. That gives Bentonville parent, Allison Teters, a little bit of relief.
“This year, they will be on different buses. So, this system gives me that comfort to know that he’s going to get on the bus. He’ll be starting at a later time than his younger brother, which means he’ll be getting on the bus by himself,” said Teters.
According to route coordinator and fill-in bus driver, Kristen Callaway, this will be a big win for those who drive buses as well.
“Having an illuminated map with turn-by-turn directions is going to be huge. I’m not going to have to look at a paper copy and try to read it in the dark trying to figure out where I’m going next,” said Callaway.
Students will scan an ID card to get both on and off the bus. The student’s tracking information will be sent out to an app on the parent’s cell phone. The information will also go to a dashboard for the transportation director.
“As a student, as he bus pulls up, and the student gets on board the bus, they will swipe on the bus. The parents will get a communication that Jason [the parent’s student] has now boarded bus 124,” said Salmons.
Transportant will also help bus drivers ensure the right kids are getting on and off.
“This gives you a visual with pictures. It gives you the audio beep. So, there’s no mistaking what students should be getting on and off at what stop,” said Callaway.
A potential challenge could be making sure students remember to bring their name badge. As Transportant gets up and running, the district asks for patience from parents and students.
“I think starting about mid-September everybody will start getting in he rhythm, but August and September are going to be difficult months,” said Salmons.
According to the Bentonville School District, around two-thirds of students in the district ride a school bus. The system will cost the district $687,790 this year. The annual fee each following year is $96,600.