School buses add GPS tracking

By on March 17, 2017
SD 58 operations manager Archie Stogianos shows off one of the GPS devices coming to SD 58 buses that travel to rural areas outside cell phone range. Michael Potestio/Herald

New GPS devices are being installed on School District 58 buses to ensure student safety on buses that travel out of cell phone range.

This past fall, SD 58 received funding from the new provincial Student Transportation Fund to put towards adding new satellite GPS systems on school buses.

At last Wednesday’s school board meeting in Merritt, SD 58 operations manager, Archie Stogianos showed trustees how the devices work.

Stogianos said the handheld communicator can track the location of a bus, its speed and can be used by a bus driver out of cell phone range to relay information via text message.

“It’s good insurance that way. If [a bus is] stuck in traffic and a half hour late, we know what’s going on,” he said.

Another feature of the device is its SOS button, which can be programed to message 911.

“And also its got the GPS feature, so the drivers can use it if they’re lost,” he said.

The devices work off multiple satellites and can be programmed to send messages to up to 20 cell phones, and can send emails as well.

Two buses known to travel out of cell phone range when driving out towards the Shackan reserve and Douglas Lake in the Merritt area, along with two that travel to Tulameen and Osprey Lake in the Princeton area will have the devices installed.

“We need to know if they’re having any trouble and then be able to respond by sending some help out there,” SD 58 superintendent Steve McNiven told the Herald.

Stogianos said he will have a meeting with bus drivers sometime over the two-week spring break — which starts next week — regarding the new devices before they are installed.

McNiven said he expects the devices will be installed sometime after spring break.

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