GPS comes to CPS buses

August 31, 2009 (CHICAGO) The routes are almost planned- and this year GPS will help keep the buses on schedule.

More than 18,000 CPS students take the bus to school. One of the biggest challenges for transportation officials is coordinating the bus routes with students.

"Like a GPS system in your automobile, it allows you to track the movement of a vehicle," said Francisco DuPrey, deputy general manager of transportation, CPS.

Ammons Transportation has a fleet of 35 buses that will serve CPS students this year; all with the new GPS device.

"It will allow us to make sure our buses are on the top schedule, make sure they're not missing any stops, not missing any children and try to get as many children to school as possible on time," said Catrice Kelsey-Ammons, director, Ammons Transportation.

The GPS is activated as soon as the driver turns on the ignition. It not only tracks the bus route, it sends special alerts when the lights go on to pick up a student, when the stop arm goes out, and when the doors open and close.

The information is viewed on a web site that is only accessible to Chicago Public Schools and the bus companies. The data is updated every 30-seconds and is used for safety as well as efficiency, tracking locations, speed, even making sure buses stop at railroad crossings.

This year could see other challenges coordinating bus routes because of the new track calendar; 132 schools are on a year-round schedule where school days don't always jive with the traditional calendar.

Parents should be receiving cards in the mail this week from CPS giving the location and time for bus pick up for their children. If they have any question, they should call Chicago Public Schools before the school year begins.

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