Logistics software helps school districts organize daily bus routes


Fleet managers who introduce logistics software into their organizations can continue operating as normal despite industry-wide driver shortages. For years, businesses have worried about the fact that fewer young people are interested in pursuing careers as truck drivers. According to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a large majority of the workforce is aged 55 years or older, meaning many are on the brink of retirement.

School districts struggle to find bus drivers
Managers in the heavy-duty trucking industry aren't the only ones having trouble recruiting new drivers. Many local school districts throughout the U.S. are experiencing similar problems with their bus fleets. For example, The Brazil Times, a newspaper based in Brazil, Ind., recently reported that Clay Community Schools (CCS) is making efforts to hire more substitutes to build a larger pool of backup resources when full-time employees can't complete their shifts. Currently, the school district only has 19 substitute drivers. Mike Howard, the director of extended services at CCS, said he is interested in raising that number to more than 30.

Howard also explained many other school corporations throughout the U.S. have struggled to keep their school bus fleets running as smoothly as possible due to chronic driver shortages. CCS currently manages 75 different vehicles that travel more than 3,000 collective miles each day. Larger districts may be responsible for even more complex daily operations. Without the proper resources, organizing schedules, planning employee shifts and getting children to and from school on time can lead to a great deal of frustration.

Recent cold temperatures highlight complexity of the driver shortage issue
External issues such as cold weather have the tendency to make these problems even worse. According to CBS Chicago, the recent polar vortex that swept through the city, as well as other areas throughout the Midwest, left the managers of many local school districts unprepared to sustain normal transportation activity. Not only did some organizations report trouble getting their vehicles running in subzero temperatures, but a lack of available drivers reduced the number of buses on the road even further. Niles School District 64, which experienced many of these problems, has 1,800 students who regularly take the bus to school.

Automated technology can help school districts of any size avoid most of these problems in the future. Fleet management software is uniquely prepared to help managers avoid the challenges of maintaining efficient operations amid limited resources. For instance, these tools offer the ability to create flexible shift schedules for available employees that can be adjusted as need be. Similarly, equipment maintenance software, which enables managers to assign routine vehicle checkups, will eliminate the problem of having buses break down or fail to start in excessively cold weather conditions.

Getting thousands of kids to and from school every day is a complicated responsibility facing school districts around the country. Dynamic and automated resources are well worth the initial investment, and failing to properly manage a bus fleet can lead to public backlash.