It’s that time of year again when kids begin to head back to school. It can be nerve racking those first few days, as you get to know your new teachers, make friends, and in some cases, learn a new building. However, one of the more worrisome things for both parents and children is taking the bus. When will the bus arrive? Where and who will you sit on the bus? How long until you arrive at school?
Let’s think back for a moment. How many times did you miss your school bus as a child? Or how many times have your own children missed the bus? Whether it happened to you or your children, my guess is that it’s happened more than once. At least enough times that you wish there was some way you could know when your bus might be early one day and arrive later the next. This would be helpful information to know, especially during the winter months when it can be dangerous for children to wait in the extreme cold. Well, guess what? You can eliminate some of your stress because there is now an app to help prevent your kids from missing the bus.
What’s all the hype?
This week in Indianapolis there has been a lot of discussion about the first app in the U.S. that alerts parents and children when and where their school bus is located. The app is called “Here Comes the Bus” and was developed by a local GPS company called Synovia Solutions. They built the app in hopes to reduce frustration from parents as their child waited for the bus during poor weather or standing by dangerous and busy roads. They hope the app will prevent fewer phone calls to the administration when the bus is late. The app provides parents with information about the bus schedule and whether they need to make alternate arrangements for their children.
Free or Paid Access
Here Comes the Bus has two types of access – basic and full. The basic version is free and allows parents to access the school bus’ location in real time on the Here Comes the Bus website. The full version includes a smartphone app providing parents with the real-time location of the bus, with email and push notifications. The app also alerts parents when the bus is close using custom parameters.
The app differs from the website because you are able to receive notifications about the whereabouts of the bus. You can track the scheduled stops of the bus as it makes it way to the school and then back home. Also if you have children that ride different buses you can keep tabs on all of them in one app. The full app version is either $18.50 annually or $3.50 per month. Parents are able to trial the app for two weeks for free to ensure it is a good fit.
The app is available on the App Store and Google Play where parents can utilize on either their smartphone or tablet. Here Comes the Bus is also available in 3 languages: English, Spanish and French.
According to the Synovia Solutions website the app will be used for Avon, Washington Township, Wayne Township and Decatur Township. Parents are encouraged to sign up now using a district code and student ID. Synovia Solutions hopes the app will become used nationwide by school districts.
How secure is Here Comes the Bus?
As with any online technology there are security concerns and this app is not 100 percent free from threats. In order to use Here Comes the Bus, parents need to know the school’s district code. My concern is that many of the district codes are public knowledge. They can be found on the school’s website or social media accounts. Once parents have provided the district code, they need to setup a profile by creating a username and password. You can then add your children to your account. This is where you enter their student ID. How easy could hackers find that information? With Here Comes the Bus, you cannot track other students even if they are on the same bus. Your children are only visible to you.
After doing some research on social media, I noticed that the app received mixed reviews. As you might expect with new software, Here Comes the Bus seems to be experiencing some technical problems. Some parents noticed that the GPS was not tracking their bus. Others noticed that the app couldn’t find their child. Others were complaining about the price of the full version, login issues, loading and opening of the app. Also it appears that many parents don’t know where to find the school district code to even sign up for the service. However, this just seems like parents are not fully informed.
As a new software, Here Comes the Bus continues to receive feedback. Their customer service staff appears to be actively responding to customer reviews online, including those that are negative. However, many of the reviews seem to be bug fixes. As a trusted company in Indianapolis, the app has a great concept to keep parents and students informed. Despite some of the negative reviews, I suspect this app will be available to school districts nationwide within the next year or two. I think Here Comes the Bus will help anxious parents become a little more confident in bus transportation. The app will ensure your children arrive at the bus stop on time.
What do you think about the Here Comes the Bus app? Let us know in the comments below!