Digitalize your school bus operations with our Shotl app

Shotl, in collaboration with Essex County Council and professional services provider Jacobs, is currently involved in a project which is digitizing home to school journeys in the UK. 

For years there have been bus services that tailor their routes to users’ needs. Not only in the form of dial-a-ride services and community transport, but also along the lines of school transportation: A bus that serves a daily route based on students’ needs.

Generally, fixed school bus routes remain the same every day, with perhaps very slight changes occurring throughout the term. Daily life, however, isn’t predicable. Traditional bus services struggle to provide the flexibility required to function in line with unforeseen events. Why does the bus need to divert to a student’s house when the parents called the school earlier in the day to let them know that their child will be absent? Why should you stand out in the cold if you can receive a message at home telling you that the bus is on its way? 

Our digital DRT app offers many advantages for School-bus services; Increasing efficiency, minimizing human work-load, and improving parental control. 

Transforming your current service can be done in three simple stages:

  • Driver App: We install tablets (or smartphones) in vehicles with the route already loaded. With the Shotl app operating in shadow mode the home to school route will be pre-determined. The platform provides drivers with navigational instructions and logs detailing when and where every pickup is, the routes the vehicle has followed, delays, etc. 
  • Passenger App: We make the Shotl App available to customers who can then create their Shotl profile, cancel a ride if necessary, monitor the arrival of the bus, and follow its journey throughout the route (this is especially useful for parents wishing to track their child’s journey).
  • Shotl Algorithm and optimization: taking into account any constraints or issues with flexibility (#1), Shotl assesses whether the current routes are optimal and wherever necessary will suggest new ones. When students request new journeys extra virtual stops can be added and in turn, the platform algorithm determines how they can be merged with existing routes.

No school is the same and students will always have very diverse transport needs. For this very reason, all of the above steps can be customized in relation to specific projects. During the 2018-19 academic year, Shotl in collaboration with Essex County Council and Jacobs, completed Stage 1 for a secondary school in Essex, with 3000 trips fulfilled using seven minibuses. Thanks to the success of Stage 1, the project will now continue into the next academic year with Stages 2 and 3. 

We are excited to explore new DRT models, and school transportation is an area in which we would like to take further steps over the next few years. We look forward to sharing further news and findings with you as the project continues.

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