Route Management Team
GPT has formed a route management team to address the routing issues and provides flexible, efficient school bus routing solutions. The main purpose of this initiative is to study all the pickup and drop off points, carry out a risk assessment of the route and ensure high-level of safety. While designing the school bus routes, the safety of the students should come first. Safety of students, road conditions, the economy of operation, student convenience is considered before designing and planning the bus routes. As per the planned route, the pickup and drop off timings of the students are communicated to all the parents of the transport users. This ensures optimal utilization of resources, clearer communication and safer routes.
Definition of Route, Route Planning & New Route
Any prescribed traffic path by which a School Bus travels to pick-up or drop-off children is called 'Route' in the fleet operation of Gulf Pinnacle Transport
Objectives of the Route Management Team
The objectives of the RMT is to plan a safe and cost-effective route, check the route and schedule for accuracy, ensure vehicles are operated as per compliance requirements and ensure optimum utilization of resources
Planning of Routing and Optimum Utilization
School buses are allotted for each route based on the number of students and teachers traveling on the particular route. In routes where big buses cannot ply, medium buses are deployed
Role of Route Management Team
The Route Management Team (RMT), consisting of Transport Officer, Transport Supervisor, Foreman and Teams Leaders of the school are responsible to assess the need to introduce transport service in new route or the need to increase the number of buses on the existing route. Planning should start at least two months before commencement of a new academic year.
Any two buses should not share the same route unless the number of children exceeds seating capacity of one bus. Minimum 60% seats should be filled while introducing a new route. Prior approval from the General Manager should be obtained before introducing a new route. The driver and conductor assigned for the new route have to do trial runs at least 3 to 4 times before commencing the new route. Check the route and schedule for accuracy. Before allotting a bus to a particular route, the RMT will study the route carefully, keeping in mind the safety of children and also cost-effectiveness.
All the stops (pick up & drop off points) should be checked and approved by the RMT and communicated to the foreman of the school. The GPS coordinates of all the pickup points are recorded for smart attendance system. Determine that the pickup and drop off points are safe and students are picked or dropped at authorized stops only. The location of pick up or drop off points should not be changed without prior approval.
Observe conditions of the bus, e.g., cleanliness, tires, windows, emergency exit(s), first aid kits, fire extinguisher, seats, etc. Observe vehicle inspection guide for evidence of pre-trip inspection. Note driver attitude towards other motorists and pedestrians.
School Bus Routing Principles
After registration of students, the foreman locates the registered areas / pick up & drop-off points where the students are to be transported, the proposed bus route is defined to serve them. The exact location, where required, the route map of the pickup/drop-off point of the student is obtained at the time of registration.
Buses are allotted for each route based on the number of students and staff traveling in that route. In routes where big buses cannot ply, Medium buses are deployed. The Route Management team of GPT is solely responsible to assess the need to introduce transport in a new route or the need to increase the number of buses on an existing route. Planning should start at least one month before introducing a new route during the academic year. In drawing bus routes, the principles listed below should be kept in mind. They are based primarily on consideration for the safety, welfare, and convenience of the students to be transported. Keeping in mind the local conditions necessary deviations from these principles will be considered as required from time to time.
Routes should be set up on “shoe-string” or “spoke” basis when feasible. A “shoe-string” the route is one, which provides for the first student pickup at the point farthest from the school and then proceeds as directly as possible to the school. In general, the larger the school operation, the easier it is to organize routes on the “shoe-string” basis. The advantage of the “shoe-string” the route is that it holds, to a minimum, the number of distance a pupil must ride on the bus. On a pure “shoe-string” route, a pupil will not ride on the bus a greater distance than the distance from the pupil’s home to the school. The “shoe-string” the route is the most economical if the driver of the bus lives in the vicinity of the first pupil pick-up and works in or near the school during the day. Hence as far as possible, we deploy driver from the same locality of the route to complete the trip.
In certain situations, it may be efficient to use “circular” or “loop” routes. With this type of route, the first passenger who boards the bus in the morning should be the first one to disembark in the evening. In other situations, a combination of the “shoe-string” and “loop” routes may be the most efficient type. These are sometimes referred to as “button-hook” routes. The route starts at the school as a “shoe-string” type but then changes into a “loop” after a distance. Short distances often permit one bus to transport more than one trip of students. This “double-routing” or multiple services, however, requires careful planning including school scheduling.
Routes should be arranged so students need not cross a heavily traveled road to either board the bus or depart from the bus. No driver shall stop a school bus and allow it to remain stationary for the purpose of receiving passengers from or disembarking passengers to the opposite side of the road on a multi-lane highway of three (3) or more lanes. The size of buses contemplated should be governed by road conditions for maneuvering and the capacity utilization in the particular route. If the time required to traverse the route is within reasonable limits, the number of students on the route is sufficient, and the road surface is adequate, a sixty-five (65) or larger passenger bus is warranted. The larger bus will, if fully utilized, result in a lower per student cost. Bus stops may not be located at intersections. Maximum riding time for any student should be kept within reasonable limits and the age of the child should be given consideration. Bus stops may not be located at points where reasonable clear visibility in each direction is not sufficient to give the driver adequate time to stop.
A sufficient number of buses should be provided to transport all students without requiring groups of pupils to wait an unreasonable amount of time. Two buses should not share the same route unless the number of children exceeds seating capacity of one bus. Attention should be given to items permitted with a student while being transported to guard against interfering with the compartmentalization and collision protection afforded by school bus seat design. As per the policy of GPT, only those items that a student can carry safely in their lap shall be transported on a school bus. Once routes have been tentatively designed using a map, the route management team shall conduct a review in consultation with the foreman, so that they may observe any factors, which might indicate a route change.
The RMT shall inspect all bus routes and make recommendations to the Senior VP. During the inspection, the RMT will make sure that necessary “turnarounds” are safe and suitable in all weather conditions and that bus stop locations meet the reasonable clear visibility requirements. After this survey, a time study through trial run shall be made for each route by driving it in the same type of vehicle that will be used in the actual operation. The driver(s) who will operate the route should regard the trip as a “ dry run.” All scheduled stops should be made, mileage with and without pupils should be recorded, distance and time between stops should be indicated, etc. During such trips, the GPS coordinates are also recorded for the purpose of smart attendance system. This data, if obtained accurately, will permit the development of a schedule, which probably will need little revision once it is placed into effect. The schedule as finally established should allow the driver enough time to operate in a safe manner. Allowance should be made for challenging traffic and inclement weather conditions of the UAE.