“Where’s Our School Bus?”

Getting the kids to school is stressful. You wake them up, feed them, make sure they’ve got their 75-pound backpacks. Then you stress about the bus.

Early? Late? Who knows?

Early? Late? Who knows?

Betty Tsang knows the routine well. With 3 children, she spent too much time trying to figure out if the school buses were late — or her kids were, and now needed rides to school.

There had to be a better way, she and her husband Norman thought.

Now there is. The  Tsangs created “Where’s Our School Bus?” — a free app for iPhones and Androids.

It’s very clever. Not to mention friendly. And secure.

“Where’s Our School Bus” works through crowdsourcing (the more users, the better). Parents or students tap the app the moment the bus arrives at their stop in the morning or afternoon. The app automatically recalculates ETAs for users further down the route.

School bus 2Messaging among members allows more detailed sharing of information for “unusual situations” (“New driver — get outside or it will pass!”).

Features include a map view (visually depicting the bus’s location); a schedule view that shows the stops in list order, and automatic alerts, reminding you not to be late to the bus stop.

Privacy is important. So only the bus location is noted, never an individual. All data is encrypted.

Tsang says the app saves time and gas (no more jumping in the car just because you think you’ve missed the bus!), and creates a little community among parents on each route.

There’s more info, and a video — though using it does not require a Ph.D. — at www.wheresourschoolbus.com.

The app has been tested on a limited number basis. This week, the Tsangs opened it up to all Westport buses. (It’s still in beta.)

What a great idea! Now if the Tsangs can just create an app that eliminates those 75-pound backpacks…

9 responses to ““Where’s Our School Bus?”

  1. John McCarthy

    Great app. Nice work Tsangs!
    A great example of what can be done with crowd sourced data. Had they just sat back and waited for the town or BOE to come up with equivalent tech, it would never have happened. Next step is the opening of government based digital data sources and feds for use by anyone to create useful tools and apps as the government 2.0 revolution rolls on.

  2. Doug Conner

    There’s another way of ensuring promptness: Eliminate making stops every 50 yards. Have kids walk to designated pick-up areas.

  3. Brilliant idea and example of positive problem-solving. Can’t wait to try it.

  4. Lord, stressing about bus stops? Doug Conner has a good point but a better one is for the kids to walk home from the bus stop by themselves. They might just have to be alone for several minutes a day without adult supervision? Maybe there is an “app” for that?

    • It’s for going TO. school. Sometimes our buses are 45 minutes late – and at the 40 minute mark you figure it’s a last case, and drive them in. Ten minutes later an empty bus arrives at the school. Dattco is pretty lousy.

  5. Cathy Smith Barnett '66

    The “Leave Me Alone” app sounds like a great idea Carl, for kids and adults!