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Millcreek Journal

Granite School District bus app generating positive response

Oct 04, 2021 12:24PM ● By Heather Lawrence

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

Roughly 7,800 students in Granite School District ride the school bus on a daily basis. An app called Here Comes the Bus was launched by the district’s transportation department in January. It lets parents know when the bus is close both for pickup and drop off. 

“The app shows the location of a student’s bus in real time. This helps provide parents with arrival times for both home and school routes. You can also get a notification on your phone when the bus is near,” said Ben Horsley of GSD.  

The app is available for download on Apple’s The App Store and Google Play. After downloading, users are asked to sign up and put in the school district’s code, 29318. Users create a password and then add students using their last name and student ID. 

GSD’s transportation director and licensed bus driver David Gatti said the response to the app has been positive. 

“Parents who have downloaded the app have said it has been very helpful in determining the status of the bus, whether or not their child had missed the bus, and other messages that the department needs to communicate to parents,” Gatti said. 

Gatti said the app has many benefits and isn’t just a convenience. He noted that about 1,300 special needs students use the school bus daily, some of whom need constant care.  

Gatti also said many buses use a group stop, not a specific residence. When there is bad weather, parents pick up kids from these stops. This will limit the amount of time a parent or child needs to wait in bad weather. 

“[The app] is a free way for parents to be more in-the-know about when their child’s bus is arriving. There are many things beyond a bus driver’s control that may affect the bus’s timeliness. HCTB allows parents to set alerts that tell them when their child’s bus is a certain number of minutes from the stop.  

“In inclement weather, [using HCTB means] parents and students are exposed to adverse conditions for shorter periods of time. Furthermore, a parent can determine whether their student missed the bus or whether it is just running a bit late,” Gatti said. 

GSD notes that the process of creating an account, choosing the district code 29318, and entering a student’s last name and ID number limit privacy concerns with HCTB.  

Parents and students who use the app become a “partner” in the transportation process. “HCTB allows them to be privy to information at the click of a button on their smart device. This information was previously only accessible through a call to our office,” Gatti said. 

Parents are encouraged to reach out with any questions or concerns about using the app, bus schedules or whether their child is eligible for transportation services. 

For specific bus schedules, call your child’s school. For eligibility, go to the GSD transportation website to enter your address. Elementary students who live 1.5 miles or more from the school are eligible; for junior high and high school students it’s 2 miles. 

Email questions about the app to [email protected] or call 385-646-4280 for general education and 385-646-4298 for special education.  

The app has proved to be a good tool to limit frustration and anger at the bus driver when the bus is off schedule. When they can see that it’s late, parents and students aren’t stuck somewhere waiting, wondering if they missed it. 

“[Bus] drivers are grateful that parents and students are less upset if the bus is late, as they can stay home until the bus is eminently at their stop,” Gatti said.