New tools facilitate communication between Student Transportation Services and parents

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Dallas ISD Student Transportation Services is improving existing systems and rolling out new features to communicate with parents more effectively during the 2019-2020 school year.

Parents and students will have access to several free applications that will support and effectively communicate any transportation updates for that family. One of the applications is a mobile app, Versatrans MyStop, that offers GPS tracking of the child’s school bus when using within the 10 minute designated stop time. The other application is Bus Bulletin, which is a free service that parent’s are recommended to sign-up for. It will notify parents of their child’s route delay via text, phone call, or email.

“These tools are a way to keep that constant line of communication open and to ensure we are transparent with our parents,” said Stacey Hogue, Dallas ISD executive director of transportation. “We want them to know what’s going on, so we’re bringing these tools to further communicate with them.”

App that allows GPS Tracking of school busses now available districtwide

The mobile app “Versatrans My Stop” allows GPS-tracking of school buses.

This free mobile app can be downloaded at the App Store or Google Play Store.

Students and parents who download the app can watch a stream of their child’s bus location and see whether their bus is on time. The service is not available outside the 10-minute window from the student’s designated stop

“We’re listening to the concerns of our parents and they wanted a tool that they can use to see exactly where the bus is,” Hogue said. “This allowed them to tell their child: ‘Well, the bus is ready to turn on this street now and will be here in a few minutes.’”

The families of students who were enrolled in special education classes utilized this service during the 2018-2019 school year. After receiving great feedback, Transportation Services decided to expand access to this app districtwide.

New service will send immediate updates to parents in case of delays

Bus Bulletin is the newest service that will facilitate communication between parents and Transportation Services. This system notifies families and campuses of delays on bus routes, traffic jams, or accidents through text messages, emails, or phone calls.

“We’ll have at least two individuals in each of our service centers that will be assigned to Bus Bulletin and sending out notifications,” Hogue said. “As soon as the driver calls on the radio, our dispatcher will get that message and immediately send a message out that will go to parents and to campus personnel in the actual schools.”

Parents will be able to register for Bus Bulletin starting on August 18, 2019 by clicking the following link: http://busbulletin.com/parents/

New resources for call center will increase efficiency

Dallas ISD’s technology experts have collaborated with Transportation Services to develop a system that issues ticket numbers for each call. Each ticket number will be assigned to a specific individual at the service center for resolution. This will allow the department to track the issues and concerns more effectively and get a quicker response to the parents.

The call agents will have access to Bus Bulletin. And, for the first time, they’ll be trained to utilize five systems that are exclusive to Transportation Services in hopes of quickly answering the parents’ questions. Lastly, the call center will be overstaffed for the first six weeks to better address long waits.

Dallas ISD families can reach the call-center at 972-925-4287.

Charting a new course

Dallas ISD Transportation Services is looking to build on the notable transportation improvements made last school year. The on-time bus arrival rate increased to 95 percent by the end of the school year, according to a report shared with Dallas ISD trustees on June 13.

Dallas ISD started running its own transportation system for the first time this past school year after Dallas County residents voted to dissolve Dallas County Schools (DCS), the taxpayer-funded agency that Dallas ISD contracted with to bus students. The average on-time arrival rate under DCS in 2017–2018 was 65 percent.

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