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Making Student Transportation More Flexible and Transparent

This post is part of a series that dives into our vision for reimagining student transportation

The pandemic has caused us to radically reconsider education in ways we never imagined we would, with hybrid models of virtual and in-person classes and newly flexible school schedules. Now’s the time to reinvent what remains the most inflexible part of the nation’s educational system: How students get to and from school.

The pandemic has caused us to radically reconsider education in ways we never imagined we would, with hybrid models of virtual and in-person classes and newly flexible school schedules. Now’s the time to reinvent what remains the most inflexible part of the nation’s educational system: How students get to and from school.

Student transportation impacts everything from the time the bell rings to the length of a student’s day to whether they are able to focus in or out of class. One recent study found that students with long commutes spend less time sleeping and exercising, suggesting “troubling public health implications for teens.”

Cloud-based software and AI have transformed virtually every industry. We order groceries, shop for clothes and participate in work meetings in ways that depart radically from how we conducted these activities only a few years ago. These same tools and technologies can infuse the student transportation system with the same flexibility, transparency and agility that we, as consumers, have come to expect from all manner of other services, while also offering the superior safety supported by real-time visibility.

Tech-enabled flexibility allows systems to respond quickly to unexpected changes. And if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s how swiftly and radically circumstances can change. If schools need to institute staggered schedules to enable social distancing, for example, or decide to extend the school day for students who are falling behind, they can do so seamlessly using state-of-the-art software.

In addition to technology advancements, we can’t continue to expect that a one-size-fits-all vehicle works for every student. Some students live minutes from their schools, in highly dense city environments, while others live in rural communities where they are spread out from their peers. Reconsidering the configuration of fleets, and introducing multiple vehicle sizes, can accommodate for a variety of commutes.

Tech-driven transparency 

At Zum, we believe that schools and families should benefit from the tech-enabled transparency and flexibility that have transformed other types of transportation in recent years. We believe that districts should be able to prioritize safety, achieve new efficiency and elevate customer satisfaction by tracking capacity, ride duration, on-time arrivals, driver behavior and other key performance indicators.

We believe that modern parents deserve to be notified when their children have boarded a school bus (or other vehicle), where the vehicle is located in its transit journey and when their children have safely been dropped off at their destination. We believe that bus drivers should be able to report, monitor and track safety incidents using cloud-based tools.

Fundamentally, transparency allows us to see and predict problems so that we can fix them. Do our children deserve any less?

To learn more about Zum’s approach to student transportation transparency, read our full vision here.