Newport News students test out bus tracking system

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Officials with Newport News Public Schools are testing a new system to see if it would help make sure students get on the right bus.

According to Director of Transportation Shay Coates, during the first week of school, the district receives so many calls from parents with questions about their students’ buses that they have to set up a call center.

“The first week of school is always hectic,” he said.

This month, the district started a pilot program on five buses carrying students to and from early childhood centers. Students have a card with their information on it, which they scan when they get on and off.

“It will let them know this is the student’s name and it will tell you what stop he’s supposed to…get off at and what school they go to,” Coates said.

Parents can use an app to track their student from the school to the bus stop.

“We’re trying to see is this the right fit for Newport News Public Schools, does this help us in any way, because a lot of times when parents are calling in, we might know where the bus is, but we have to physically call the driver to see if this kid is actually on the bus, then the bus driver has to go through trying to drive and find out if the kid is still on the bus,” Coates said.

The pilot program will run through the end of the year, then officials will consider expanding it to the rest of the school district. It’s not clear how much it would cost if the school board decides to approve it.