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Denver Schools Use GPS To Track Student Bus Riders

DENVER (Colo) - It's a parent's worst nightmare – their young child gets on the wrong school bus and all of a sudden is lost.

"I was watching all the kids come off the bus and she didn't come, so I knew something was wrong," remember Kanesha McBath, a mother whose daughter got on the wrong bus. "I panicked, I cried and I was told, 'Wait at the school.' I couldn't go get her."

Now modern technology is taking on this old problem. Students in the Denver Public School system carry a card that they scan when they get on and off the school bus. The information tells who is on the bus, when, and where that bus is. It's tracked on a computer that parents will soon be able to monitor from their own homes.

"It's been great. They love scanning. They get on, they scan it, they're happy. They can do it themselves. It's great. We don't lose any kids, that's for sure," said Delissa Gaines, a bus driver for Denver Public Schools.

The DPS GPS system is called Plus Pass, and it's made by a company called Zonar. The head of the DPS transportation department came up with the plan to keep kids safe. It's paid for out of the District's general fund and through grants. Pre-school and kindergarten students at Escalante Briggs Academy in Montbello were among the first to try out the Plus Pass, and it's getting rave revues.

"If there's nobody there to pick-up the child, that child stays on the bus. And parents usually call in and say, 'We missed the bus.' We can track the bus is and call transportation," said Ray Mondragon, the principal at Escalante Briggs Academy.

The Plus Pass is giving our youngest students new responsibilities, and parents piece of mind as they send their little ones off to school. The program is such a huge success that DPS is hearing from school districts across the county interested in implementing the system.

--Written for by Special Projects Producer Libby Smith


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