Many things have changed over the last couple of months due to the pandemic, but the expectations for bus safety have not.
Harlingen CISD is installing Zonar equipment on its 122 school buses. The Zonar system consists of sensor-based technology that will assist the transportation department with checking students in and out of the bus, digital inspections, and GPS services.
“We really wanted to improve our infrastructure,” Director of Transportation, Luciano Rubio said. “This technology is what every transportation department wants. The main reason we wanted this Zonar was to track students for safety reasons. We want to make sure we know who is on the bus at all times.”
The Zonar system includes various sensors that are placed throughout the bus. A radio frequency identification scanner will be located near the bus’s entrance where students will scan RFID cards when they get on and off the bus. This process will log the times each student enters and exits the bus to provide the bus drivers and school staff valuable information.
Parents can also track the location of their child’s school bus through a phone application.
“The parent app is going to bring great peace of mind to parents in the event the bus is running late,” School Board President, Eladio Jaimez said. “With this technology, we can further ensure the safety of buses in our school district and the students riding within.”
Students will also have the ability to track the location of their bus.
“If a student knows the estimated time of arrival, they can set up an alert when the bus is close by,” Rubio said. “That way, they can go outside at the right time instead of waiting in inclement weather.”
Other sensors, installed in strategic locations throughout the bus, such as near the tires and rear lights, will allow state-mandated bus inspections to be completed digitally.
“We will use a tablet to scan the sensors as the inspection is performed,” Rubio said. “If there are any diagnostic or mechanical issues with the bus, this will help us identify and track it in a more convenient way.”
The Zonar system tablet is a multipurpose tool that not only serves as a scanner for inspections; it also provides navigation services, among other features.
“Sometimes we have substitute bus drivers, and this system will allow them to understand which turn to make, or where to make a stop and so forth,” Rubio said. “It is also going to help us evaluate the routes. The GPS will help us make that route more efficient.”
The multiple features that Zonar provides will help enhance the overall operations of the transportation department.
“This upgrade to our fully air-conditioned bus fleet is incredible,” Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos said. “The features that this Zonar equipment offers will maximize the safety of our students when they ride our school buses. We want to make sure that students remain safe when they return to school, and this is just one more project we are working on that will help to ensure that.”