By Ella Crowley and Frankie Carelli 

Our names are Ella and Frankie and we are 8th Graders at Suffern Middle School.  We along our my friends, parents, and community members are concerned about the efficiency and safety of the transportation to and from school on the Trans Group LLC. Buses. 

As a District that makes technology initiatives important, we are concerned that the same focus is not being placed on our transportation.  Around this country, many school districts are using technology to ensure that parents and students can monitor and track the location of buses to and from school.  This same technology helps bus routes to run quicker, reduce fueling costs, and decrease the number of phone calls to schools and district offices looking for a status on their child’s bus.

Over 665 People Have Already Signed the Petition

We are concerned that the Suffern Central School district has been unable to come up with a solution that informs students, parents, and schools of transportation problems when they happen.  There are many examples of school buses coming late or not at all.  As students, we often get to school after the bell rings and it is affecting our education as we are missing some or all of our first classes. One example of a bus being late was on the morning of January 31, 2019, when multiple buses were running 20 – 25 minutes late while students waited outside in temperatures that felt like -12 degrees Fahrenheit.  On such a cold morning (one which the district decided to delay schools because of the extreme temperatures) students were made to stand outside with no communication from the district or the bus company.

The District believes in teaching students ‘in the values, critical skills and essential knowledge necessary to be informed and responsible citizens prepared to take the next steps in their education, careers, and lives in our diverse society.”  Having this app will allow the students to apply these skills as we continue to become responsible citizens.  We are taught in schools to apply our knowledge to real-world problems.  Having an app like this will only help us when we switch to using apps like Uber and Lyft.

We understand that the Suffern Central School District and the Trans Group LLC are unable to control things like weather, traffic, or even scheduling mistakes that can cause transportation problems.  However, we believe both the Suffern Central School District and the Trans Group LLC can fix communication issues by providing access to a GPS bus tracking app like “Here Comes the Bus,” “Treker,” or “BusWhere.”  

Students, school administrators, and parents/guardians would be able to have access to real-time information of the bus’ location to plan for when such delays occur.  These apps have features including:

o Alerts when the bus is close

o Ability to switch a bus tied to a route

o Attendance tracking on the bus

o What-if scenarios

o Adding/removing stops with interactive logs

o Encryption for security and privacy

GPS Bus tracking software is not new technology.  TripSpark Education which is one of the apps that can be used to provide real-time GPS Tracking and communication with a bus, already serves  50% of the largest school districts in the country. This service helps 2 million students on 50,000 buses across the country by informing school communities where the buses are.  

The New York City School System just passed legislation under the STOP (Student Transportation Oversight Package) on January 9, 2019, to provide real-time bus tracking to parents.

White Plains School District also made a bus tracking app available to their school community on January 9, 2019.

We are asking for an investment in our safety. The District is committed to providing safety to all students. Now we need to make sure that we have the same level of safety before and after school on our buses.   We deserve better than to wonder whether or not our bus is coming.

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