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New App Helps Parents Track St. Paul School Buses

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- Each day some 900 school bus routes are in operation, bringing St. Paul students safely to and from school. Andrew Nelson's daughter is one of those students.

"For us parents who have limited time to get our kids on and off the bus, it's good to know when it's going to get there," Nelson said.

Most of the time, his daughter's bus comes right as scheduled. The problem arises when threatening weather tosses a wrench into safe travel, leaving Nelson wondering and worrying when she will arrive.

"With weather, or with Minnesota being kind of crazy at times, it would be good to know when they're getting off the bus and when they're going to be home," Nelson said.

Now, parents of St. Paul school students can have a new tool to get better idea if the school buses are running on time.

"We call it the bus status app," said Tom Burr, the St. Paul Schools director of transportation.

It's a free, downloadable app to an Android or iOS cell phone that lets parents and students see if their bus is on time.

The app tracks all bus routes and will appear green if the bus is running as scheduled or less than 10 minutes late. The screen turns yellow when the bus is more than 10 minutes late and red if the bus has been canceled.

Individual bus drivers simply radio their on-time status to company dispatchers who in turn pass the information along to the school district's transportation center. The data is then placed into the app.

"We struggled with a good way to let parents know if busses are running late," Burr said, "and this seems like a quick, easy tool to use."

And for parents like Nelson, any worries about his daughter's arrival quickly vanish.

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