Missoula, MT (PRWEB) October 16, 2009
Education Logistics, Inc. (EDULOG) announced today the results of a number of cost saving initiatives recently conducted using the TIMS (Transportation Information Management System) software that EDULOG developed for the transportation operations of every school district in North Carolina. Districts both large and small throughout the state have documented financial savings and improved service directly attributable to the capabilities of the TIMS/EDULOG software.
"Every North Carolina district has been using TIMS since 1992, and our situation is unique in that we have one routing and scheduling software system used by everybody in the state," says Derek Graham, section chief, transportation services for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. "The TIMS software, which is EDULOG.nt, is obviously quite capable at managing daily operations and state reporting functions, but where it really shines is in producing valid efficiencies and cost savings when they're needed."
According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, "the state budget for school transportation is down $15 million and LEA transportation departments are feeling the pinch. Many have implemented new efficiency measures to cut cost while serving the same population of students. The Transportation Information Management System provides a powerful planning tool to ensure the viability of new strategies."
"EDULOG's optimization functions have always been the best in the industry at producing verifiable, valid cost savings while maintaining or even increasing the level of service," explains Mike Darling, EDULOG president. "And these recent results from North Carolina prove once again that the EDULOG system is not only a powerful management tool, but also the most effective software for answering school district transportation operations' biggest questions: how do we cut costs, and then how do we implement the plan?"
The following case studies are taken from documents prepared by the North Carolina Department of Public Information.
Currituck County Schools: Reduced three buses; longest rides shortened by nearly an hour
By using TIMS to observe the results of staggered bell times between schools, bus runs were paired up, therefore maximizing efficiency of each school bus by gaining additional runs without involving more buses. This process is known as EDULOG bell time optimization and route coupling optimization.
The result was a reduction in ride time for all students in the target area to reasonable levels. Previously, some students rode for as long as two hours and 16 minutes. With the changes suggested by the system, the longest ride time will be one hour and 23 minutes. The number of students with long ride times went from 309 to 72 and most of those were actually in the 65 minute range.
By making several runs shorter, and reusing a single bus for an additional school run, the total number of buses needed to transport students in the target area is reduced from 20 to 17.
"This has worked out better than we thought it would," says Gary Cox, transportation director. "The staggering of bell time allows us to reduce most of the ride times of our students to less than an hour where it was as much as two, and in the outer areas reducing their ride times, that were as much a two plus hours, to less than 90 minutes. As a bonus, we were able to park two buses saving the county about $170,000 in new bus purchases and reallocate a third to service our early college program. Overall, a big success for the Currituck County Schools."
The Currituck County Schools has a total enrollment of approximately 3,650 students. According to Census Bureau statistics, Currituck County is the 72nd fastest growing county in the US.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools: Parked 100 buses, Consolidated 11,000 stops
In July of 2008, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) transportation staff partnered with University of North Carolina Charlotte TIMS staff to review current neighborhood bus stop placement and develop a template using landmarks in TIMS to create common neighborhood bus stops across the district in an effort to reduce the number of stops, buses, and miles.
Using ArcGIS and TIMS geographic data, maps were created using a Charlotte Chamber of Commerce study on quality of life. CMS staff used these maps as they visited each of the neighborhoods and recorded common bus stop locations. These maps were then used by UNCC TIMS staff to create landmarks in TIMS and a template of stops to be used by any school serving the neighborhood.
Two layers of landmark locations were created to address the difference in walking distances to stops for elementary students (.20 mile) and secondary students (.40 mile). Bus stops and runs were then created over the summer by CMS transportation staff using the template. Route optimization was used to pair the runs together.
Through this effort, the district has been able to trim about 100 buses from the fleet, reduce the number of daily bus runs from 5,652 to 5,292, and eliminate 11,000 miles of school bus travel each day. Assuming fuel costs of $2.00 per gallon and a consumption rate of 8 MPG, the reduction in miles by itself represents a $2,750 savings every day.
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools is the largest school district in North Carolina, with more than 133,000 students. It also has one of the largest pupil transportation operations in North America.
Pender County Schools: Eliminated three buses; introduced GIS-based decision making
Pender County Schools updated the TIMS map from county GIS data. After optimization with the new GIS map in place, Pender County Schools was able to reduce its fleet by three buses, eliminate 950 daily miles of travel, and realize savings of approximately $386,000 this school year.
County government geographic information system (GIS) data are now widely available in nearly every county of North Carolina--which was not the case when the TIMS map was initially created. Nearly all school districts have converted their TIMS system to a GIS-based map. After the initial update of a TIMS map based on GIS data, the school district's map can easily be updated from time to time using software supplied by EDULOG.
Time was of the essence for Pender County Schools to produce accurate and efficient bus routes. Not only was a GIS map conversion needed, but they needed a turn-key TIMS dataset with all students, routes, streets, speeds, addressing, etc optimized and ready for operation). The TIMS staff acquired the county GIS data and began the conversion process in April. After only a month of data collection, conversion, and optimizing, a new TIMS system based on county GIS data was implemented in Pender County.
Ricky Carter, transportation director for Pender County Schools, has no regrets. "Switching over to GIS has been a positive for Pender County Transportation. The new GIS data is more accurate in every aspect, saving us lots of time and making our route times and mileage more accurate. We would do it all over again!"
The Pender County Schools serves coast communities in the southeastern portion of the state. Total enrollment of the district is approximately 8,250.
Henderson County Schools: Reduction of one bus and 1,200 miles for just one elementary school
The Henderson County Schools transportation office began using run optimization at the end of the 2008-2009 school year in an effort to develop more efficient bus runs and routes for 2009-2010.
TIMS staff decreased the Sugarloaf Elementary School bus fleet from four buses to three. Last year, four buses each performed two AM runs and two PM runs daily. By analyzing student transportation data through run optimization, Henderson County Schools determined that the same number of students and geography could be served by just three buses, each performing two AM runs and two PM runs.
In addition to reducing the Sugarloaf bus fleet by 25%, the number of daily miles has been reduced from 171.4 miles last year to 164.6 miles for 2009-2010. Likewise, the total minutes of driving time decreased from 568 minutes to 510 minutes per day. These daily savings calculate to reductions of 1,229.4 miles and 174 hours of driving time over the course of the 180 day school year.
Student service, for the most part, is unaffected by these changes. While the average ride time increased from 36 minutes to 39 minutes, the average for students with the longest rides has been reduced from 59 minutes last year to 51 minutes this year.
Henderson County is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the district has a total enrollment of more than 13,000 students.
Cabarrus County Schools: Reduction of 53 buses and average ride times
The Cabarrus County Schools (NC) transportation office used TIMS software during the summer to explore reducing the district bus fleet. A new transportation plan has since been adopted and is being implemented for the 2009-2010 school year. By experimenting with a three-tiered, staggered bell time structure using run optimization, TIMS staff determined the entire bus fleet could be reduced by nearly one-quarter and still have the capability to serve the same geography and number of students. Last year, Cabarrus County Schools operated 963 distinct bus runs using 233 buses, for an average of 4.1 runs each day per bus (two AM runs, two PM runs).
Using the TIMS/EDULOG system, many of the longer runs were reworked and shortened to accommodate the new three-tier bell time structure. After analyzing school transportation data in TIMS, Cabarrus County Schools reduced the entire bus fleet to 180 buses and increased the number of distinct runs to 1,048 for the 2009-2010 school year, thereby increasing the average number of runs per bus to 5.8 each day (three AM runs, three PM runs).
By increasing the number of daily runs for each bus, Cabarrus County Schools has reduced the entire fleet by 53 buses (22.7%) and expects an average increase of 30 miles per day (39%) for each bus. The successful staggering of bell times and pairing of runs and routes also reduced student ride time. The average total ride time decreased three minutes each day per student, while the longest ride times decreased an average of 12 minutes per student.
Cabarrus County Schools transportation director George Douglas tipped his hat to the Board of Education for seizing this opportunity and following through on the detailed transportation plans developed by Doris Dry and the Cabarrus County Schools TIMS staff.
Cabarrus County Schools educates more than 22,300 students in Carolina's Piedmont region.
Watauga County Schools: Savings of an estimated 84,042 miles and 828 hours of driving time
The Watauga County Schools transportation office began examining the efficiency of bus routes in compliance with North Carolina guidelines regarding pupil transportation. Anticipating a reduction in transportation funding, transportation supervisor Toni Floyd reviewed the proximity of stops to one another as well as the amount of travel on side roads that occurred during the 2008-2009 school year.
Complying with North Carolina laws and policies, Watauga County Schools eliminated a substantial amount of travel on a number of side roads where, safety permitting, students are able to walk to and from home to a corner stop just off the main road. Additionally, several bus stops within close proximity were moved to a minimum distance of 0.2 miles from one another, where applicable, thus reducing the amount of unique stops made each day.
By analyzing potential bus loads in TIMS and using a clever system of transfers in accordance with staggered bell times, Floyd was able to reduce a number of buses from several schools, while significantly reducing daily mileage and driving hours across the county.
At one example school, Green Valley Elementary, the changes reduced the Green Valley bus fleet from six buses to five buses and eliminated 35.8 miles and 2.1 hours of driving time each day at this single school. These daily reductions calculate to 6,444 miles and 378 driving hours for the 180 day school year at Green Valley Elementary alone.
After implementing similar changes at all schools throughout Watauga County, preliminary estimates show daily reductions of 466.9 miles and 4.6 hours of driving time after eliminating unnecessary travel on side roads. These county-wide reductions have produced savings of an estimated 84,042 miles and 828 hours of driving time for the entire 2009-2010 school year.
Watauga County Schools serves 4,650 students in the High Country of North Carolina along the Tennessee border.
To review the full story for each of the districts cited above, visit the North Carolina School Bus Safety website at: http://www.ncbussafety.org/Archives/archive2009Budgetwoes.html
Education Logistics, Inc. (EDULOG) has been recognized as the industry leader in pupil transportation solutions since 1978, with an estimated 150,000+ school buses routed by its clients each day. EDULOG partners with K-12 school districts to provide total transportation management systems including true GIS planning and scheduling software, efficiency and optimization studies, guaranteed cost savings plans, GPS-based routing software, student tracking, driver payroll, vehicle inspection, boundary planning, enrollment projection, field trip management, fleet maintenance, innovative ASP solutions for small and medium-sized districts, and a comprehensive selection of Internet-based products. EDULOG uniquely combines its powerful software with initial and continuing consulting services provided by the industry's largest source of such expertise. For more information about EDULOG, visit http://www.EDULOG.com.