IC BUS INTRODUCES SCHOOL BUS DRIVER BARRIER KIT

BUS DRIVER

IC Bus has introduced its new driver barrier kit aimed at providing added protection for school bus drivers by mitigating the spread of germs, such as COVID-19, on the school bus.

The barrier utilizes available stanchions to create a plexiglass barrier between the driver and passengers, according to a news release from the school bus manufacturer.

“We are excited to offer a barrier kit for our customers that provides added protection for school bus drivers by mitigating the spread of germs while maintaining the highest safety standards for the driver portion of the vehicle,” said Trish Reed, vice president and general manager of IC Bus. “Even with COVID-19, the school bus remains the safest form of transportation for students to get to school and back, and this barrier kit plays an additional role in reducing the spread of germs between passengers and the driver.”

With COVID-19, the school bus manufacturer said there has been increased demand throughout the industry for an additional solution to protect drivers when transporting students. When installed per the OEM guidelines, the barrier kit will comply with all federally approved safety standards, according to IC Bus.

VIRGINIA DISTRICT INSTALLS TEMPERATURE CHECK, VIDEO SYSTEMS ON BUSES

Video surveillance solutions provider Gatekeeper Systems Inc. has received purchase orders from a school district in Virginia to equip their school bus fleet with the company’s temperature check and video camera system. 

Warren County Public Schools will install Gatekeeper’s recently launched Intelligent Temperature Sensing Systems (ITSS) and video camera systems on approximately 50 of its school buses, Katie Wilson, Gatekeeper’s southeast regional manager, told School Bus Fleet.

Wilson said that installation for both systems will begin in November and is expected to be completed by December.

“I am impressed with the accuracy and speed of Gatekeeper’s Intelligent Temperature Sensing System,” Aaron Mitchell, transportation director at Warren County Public Schools, told SBF. “The system is user friendly and easy for our students to understand.”

ITSS is a contactless system that can determine body temperature within 20 milliseconds using thermal cameras, artificial intelligence, and video analytics, according to a news release from Gatekeeper. Visual and audible alarms are triggered when temperature thresholds are exceeded. When passengers board a bus, the ITSS panel records body temperature with an accuracy of +/- 0.5 degree Celsius. The seven-inch ITSS panel is equipped with facial recognition capabilities to improve accuracy and allows users to pursue future applications such as intelligent passenger routing, contact tracing, passenger counting, or payment verification, according to the video surveillance systems supplier. The panel also records images within 40 milliseconds and has storage capacity of 50,000 facial images.

A MORE CONNECTED WAY TO TRACK EMPLOYEE TRAINING

Employee, and especially bus driver, training is the foundation of the constant work that school districts do to not only be as safe as possible while transporting precious cargo, but also compliant with constantly changing state and federal requirements.

Recently announced at the Bus Technology Summit hosted by School Transportation News, a new training solution allows districts to truly customize and individualize tracking and reports, ensuring that administrators can easily manage the entry and pulling of data, and see individual employees’ training status at a glance. This new system is fully integrated with both the Traversa and Versatrans solutions from Tyler Technologies.

With this new training functionality, the following and more is possible:

Event Types

The most common types of training — behind-the-wheel, in-service, and classroom — can all be easily managed in the training module, but there’s enough customization for users to add any custom or unique training types used at their operation. They can also track if a vehicle is needed for the training event, reserve the vehicle(s), and take them out of the fleet rotation for that period of time.

Instructor Tracking

No matter who is executing the training, users of this new solution can track it. Internal instructors among the employee base are automatically listed, but the built-in customization means users can always add an external instructor. Additionally, they can specify which employees are authorized to instruct based on your event types.

Training Locations

If a training is happening on-campus, within the bus garage, or any place that already exists in the software, it will be pre-populated in the Locations list. If the training is happening off-site, that’s not a problem either. This is another opportunity to include custom fields. Custom or off-site locations will be saved within the system in case users need them again later.

Training Events

With event type, instructor, and location ready to go, users can pull all the info together into one record. They can take attendance, track the length of the event, and mark the status (e.g. Scheduled, Complete, or Canceled), and also copy a training event to use for a future time.

Employee Records

Because of complete integration with either the Traversa or Versatrans management solutions, users of this training module can easily link training events to individual employee records. This means no double-entry or separate systems, and individual training records are available at a glance.

Reporting

This solution offers intuitive reporting for the most common training needs, meaning that it’s not just easy to enter information into the system, it’s also easy to pull it back out to meet the needs of local, state, or federal requirements.

TIPS FOR GOING ELECTRIC

Last week we talked about districts buying electric buses.  This week we have a list of tips for going electric.

  • Don’t let infrastructure stall your project – start the process of charger installation in tandem with purchase.
  • Assess your needs – most operators will find that AC charging is sufficient to fully recharge their buses overnight.
  • Consult with the OEM on which EVSE is ideal – EVSEs provide two-way communication between the charger and vehicle to determine state of charge and how much power to transfer, and some EVSE brands tend to be more compatible than others.
  • Don’t “over-upgrade” electrical service without proper consultation. Pulling more power than is needed to charge vehicles can actually increase the electrical cost for an entire facility dramatically, due to what are known as “demand charges” which can push all utility costs into a higher tier.
  • Consider installing EV charging stations on a separate utility meter from the facility itself. This can allow qualification for special EV charging rates provided by many utilities and also makes it easy to track charging costs by monitoring a dedicated meter.
  • Know your electricity rates. Time-of-use rates exist in many markets which disincentivize electricity use in the evenings, meaning overnight charging is often more affordable.
  • Use available software to schedule charging for times when the cost is lowest. For example, Lion buses have a built-in software feature that allows you to schedule charging in certain time windows, even if the bus is plugged in continuously.

Electrification might sound daunting at first, but by owning their own infrastructure, school bus operators stand to benefit by lowering costs and simplifying daily operations.

Once the right pieces are in place fleet operators benefit from cleaner fleets, lower costs and, most importantly, healthier kids. After all, no one likes buying gas – and as a bonus, plugging in is cheaper.

ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUS CHARGING

SYSTEMS ON BUSES

As governments and municipalities around the world continue to set goals for decarbonization over the coming years in order to create a more sustainable society, school transportation fleets face a rapidly approaching electrified future. The benefits, of course, are clear – improved health for our kids through cleaner air and lower particulate emissions, less noise pollution, as well as lower fleet costs and increased reliability. In short, everyone wins.

In order for electric school transportation to rapidly scale, there is another need to be addressed – where will all of these new zero-emission buses charge?  The good news is charging really isn’t as complex as it may seem at first glance.

With a few unique exceptions, the majority of fleet charging is done overnight when buses would otherwise be out of use. As a bonus, that means fleet operators effectively start the day with the equivalent of a “full tank.” Daily refueling stops are also no longer necessary, simplifying dispatch schedules. Buses just plug in after finishing their daily routes.

The market is constantly evolving, and new DC charging products are coming to market which offer lower charging power (24 kilowatts) and have the potential to bring significant savings to an infrastructure installation project.

Once the right pieces are in place fleet operators benefit from cleaner fleets, lower costs and, most importantly, healthier kids. After all, no one likes buying gas – and as a bonus, plugging in is cheaper.