ZEELAND, Mich. (WZZM) - For 6,000 students at Zeeland Public Schools, riding the bus will never be the same. The district is the first in West Michigan to use an automated tracking device that lets parents know when their child goes on and off the bus.
The Zonar device automatically counts kids when they get on and off the bus.
"They run a tag across the scanner and it records that they entered the bus, the location, and the time," says Dave Meeuwsen, Zeeland Schools Transportation Director.
"I can see it being a great thing for the students and easy for the youngest to use," says Ginger Smith, Zeeland Schools Spokeswoman.
The information is sent to a database which allows the district to track routes that are overcrowded. Meeuwsen says it also improves reaction time during an emergency.
"By having students with this card, we can immediately email EMT folks about the ridership of that day, so they know who they are looking for," says Meeuwsen.
At the end of each route, an automated system asks the bus driver to check for students that may still be on the bus.
The school district bought the device with a $50,000 grant. Parents can also download an application for the program and get updated messages sent to their smartphone, every time their child gets on or off the bus.