PASCO COUNTY - Before the first school bell rings in Pasco County, the district is taking a proactive approach to solving potential transportation problems.
"That's what we saw last year," Supervisor of Transportation Operations Tad Kledzik said. "We had so much going on that by the time school started we had data in every which direction."
Transportation issues last year made students late to class or miss school all together.
"The superintendent made it absolutely clear that we needed to improve our level of service both to our community and to our students," Kledzik said.
As many as 37,000 students ride in 440 buses across 858 square miles each day. To keep all those wheels going round the district is opening a transportation call center during the first two weeks of classes.
"We expect to see huge returns on the customer service end for our parents to know exactly where the bus is, where their child is, what time that bus is arriving back to the bus stop," Ray Bonti, executive director of operations said.
Staff will be made up of more than 100 volunteers and district employees. Officials say the call center will not cost the district any extra money.
"It's going to provide us with a level of information we've not had here in Pasco before," Kledzik said.
One of the biggest developments is the "my bus loop app," a program schools will use to check in and check out school bus riders. It sends real-time data back to the call center. "The utilization of this app will be able to help us follow the progress of the bus throughout the day as well as what students are loaded onto the bus," Kledzik said.
The district has other plans in the works, like installing GPS systems, but it's awaiting approval from the school board. Officials are optimistic these new solutions will help keep transportation issues to a minimum.
The numbers parents can call for bus stop locations, pick-up and drop-off times and information about delayed buses are 813-794-2500, 727-774-2500 and 352-524-2500.