Daily Transportation Management

Overview

A student’s day-to-day scheduling exceptions can impact their transportation needs. For example, if a student is absent from school, that can impact the student’s bus requirement for the day.

The Transportation module uses data in Veracross to automate many day-to-day workflows. A script runs every thirty minutes to update bus ridership, for instance, so if a student is scheduled to leave school early (and thus has an “Early Dismissal Time” entered on their Master Attendance), the student is put on the afternoon non-rider list automatically so the bus driver and transportation manager know to not expect them for the afternoon trip.

The Transportation module does much of the logistical “heavy lifting” for the transportation office by integrating data from many areas of the system, including attendance, after-school activities, etc, simplifying the regular tasks performed by transportation offices. Typical daily tasks covered in this article include making daily transportation scheduling changes, understanding how those scheduling changes are reflected elsewhere in the system, and printing driver lists.

Read more about the Normal Transportation MethodLogistics Requests Via Parent Portals, and Exception Scheduling for activities or other regular-scheduled exceptions (forthcoming in a new article).

Printing Driver Lists

Every day it’s important to know who is expected on a particular bus, who that student might be riding with, where the student should be picked up/dropped off, and more. Driver lists, generated everyday, show this information, and by default refresh every thirty minutes based on transportation-related changes, such as updated attendance. All the information is pulled from bus routes and trips and is configured there.

Click Print Driver Lists from the Transportation homepage. This will bring up the driver list browser, and it’s easy to download and print the whole batch of AM or PM (or all) driver lists.

  • Download lists one at a time by clicking the orange PDF button next to a document, or
  • all at once with the blue Download All button.

Schools often print the driver list to give paper copies to bus drivers, especially for afternoon buses heading home, so they have all crucial information for the students expected that day:

  • At the top of the document is listed basic information about the route and the driver, including mobile phone number if available.
  • Today’s Riders: All students — whether on their normal routes or there as an exception — expected on the bus are listed as “Today’s Riders.”
  • Scheduled Non-Riders: Students not expected due to an exception are listed as “Scheduled Non-Riders” so the driver knows not to wait for them.

Viewing Transportation Information

View Student Trips

Trips are somewhat analogous to “attendance” in Veracross: a trip records the transportation method that a student took on a particular date in the morning or in the afternoon. The system automatically generates these for bus ridership, but trips are used to manage non-bus ridership exceptions as well. To find all trips, click Find Student Trips from the Transportation homepage.

View Bus Ridership

To view a list of riders for any normal bus route on any given day, access the route from the Bus Routes link in the “Configuration” section of the Transportation homepage. On the detail screen of a bus route is found:

  • Basic route information, including the start and end times
  • Links to email the riders and their parents
  • Map link (currently beta) to view the route
  • List of student riders
  • “Today’s Bus List” report, which displays all students who are actually riding the bus (i.e., including all exceptions)
  • “Trips” report, which displays all the trips this bus has taken, as well as the riders, or “Student Trips” on the bus on that date.

The General Tab is a primary place where transportation managers will enter and manage student transportation schedules, that is, the bus ridership.

Transportation Tab on the Student Detail

Each student will have a “Transportation” tab located under “Other” that shows all their relevant transportation information.

From this screen, exceptions to the normal (M-F) transportation can be scheduled.

Managing Daily Transportation

Student Trips are the key data that both record transportation history (i.e., what transportation method, route, etc. a student took), and manage transportation exceptions.

For example, if a student is normally scheduled for “Bus Route 34,” but they are not at school on Feb 15th, that exception is recorded on the Student Trip record along with their normal trip method. Veracross automatically generates and refreshes Trips based on transportation schedules plus exceptions such as attendance exceptions or events like a field trip.

By default, student trips are generated a day in advance, and the following fields are set on the Trip based on the transportation schedules: 

  • Transportation Method
  • Bus Route
  • Bus Stop
  • Stop Number
  • Origination (“Home” if AM; “School” if PM)
  • Origination Time (derived from the Bus Stop or Alternate Time if AM; derived from the Route if PM)
  • Origination Address (“Home Address” or “Stop location” if AM; blank [implied to be the school’s address] if PM)
  • Destination (“School” if AM; “Home” if PM)
  • Destination Time (derived from the Bus Stop or Alternate Time if PM; derived from the Route if AM)
  • Destination Address (“Home Address” or “Stop location” if PM; blank [implied to be the school’s address] if AM)
  • Normal Transportation Method
  • Normal Bus Route
  • Normal Bus Stop
  • After School Class (PM trips only)

This can seem complicated, but it’s simply setting the right data, derived from the transportation schedules, on every Student Trip record. Except for the three “Normal” fields, any of the above fields may be modified manually to manage transportation exceptions for any date.

One-Time Exception Management From the Trip Record

One-time exceptions are managed with the Trip Record. Attendance-related exceptions are automatically managed by the system, removing a major burden from the Transportation Manager’s day-to-day activity. Any other kind of exception may be manually recorded, as well. One-time exceptions are different from scheduled exceptions. Read more about scheduled exceptions. 

Attendance Exceptions

If a student is marked Absent or Early Dismissal for for “today”, and therefore won’t be riding their afternoon bus today, the script that refreshes trips (which as a default runs every thirty minutes) will set their actual Transportation Method to “none specified,” and it will record their attendance status and attendance notes in the Trip notes field. This results in the student being a “Scheduled Non-Rider” exception for their Normal bus for the day, and the Trip notes display the attendance status in the driver list document.

If a student is marked Absent for a day in the future (due to a family vacation, for instance), then the Trip for the date in question is generated with the actual Transportation Method as “none specified” as well, including for the morning (inbound) trip. The student can then be seen as a “scheduled non-rider.”

Note: When attendance is set to Absent, the Trip will be refreshed to set Transportation Method to “None Specified” and the Attendance Status (text) will be prepended in the Trip Notes field. For example:

  1. Trip is generated the day before: The Trip notes field is blank
  2. Student is marked “Absent: Sick” for the day: The Trip notes field is automatically updated to read, “Absent: Sick” and the Transportation Method is changed to “None Specified”, both of those values affect the Driver List and are visible throughout the system (such as in the Faculty Portal).
  3. Later, if the student arrives mid-day, and their attendance status is changed to “Late Arrival”, then the next refresh of the Trips will re-set the Transportation Method back to “Bus” and clear out the notes field, thereby placing the student back on their bus. If there is an approved student logistics request that chages the transportation method for the day to “Car,” that transportation method will be looked at prior to the typical method for the day. In this case, the trip for that day will be “Car” rather than “Bus.”

Since trips are refreshed every 30 minutes, attendance should be updated and finalized at least 30 minutes before printing driver lists.

Group Event Exceptions

Group events can be used to excuse students from school and set Master and Class attendance, which enables Trips to be refreshed according to attendance exceptions as seen above.

Although some Group events may be used to set the student’s attendance status as “Absent” or “Early Dismissal,” for the day, if the Event returns to campus before buses leave in the afternoon, then the students will be placed on their afternoon bus home if the Route “departure time” is after the Event “return to campus” time. The exact timing doesn’t matter; this can be scheduled weeks in advance and as long as the Group Event “Return to campus time” is earlier than, or equal to, the bus “Scheduled Departure time,” then that student will show up as expected for their afternoon bus on that date.

For example: If the Third Grade Field Trip to the Aquarium is set to update Master Attendance as “Absent – Excused” for the students, but the Field Trip is scheduled to return to campus at 3pm, and PM buses are scheduled to leave school at 3pm, the students will still appear as “Riders” on their PM bus driver lists.

Note: This Group Event exception doesn’t apply if the attendance status was set as “Not Expected” or “Early Dismissal” for the student. If either of those two attendance statuses are used, then the full “Attendance” exception applies, regardless of the Event timing, and the students will not show as expected on their buses.

Ad Hoc Exceptions

If day-to-day exceptions are needed that fall outside of School Attendance changes or that fall outside of regularly occurring transportation exceptions that can be scheduled (e.g. every Monday the student rides a different bus), then the proper way to handle these “ad hoc” exceptions is to either add or update a student’s Trip record. Either add a new trip record for a student, or change the Route, Transportation Method, Bus Stop, etc. — when needed. As a default, Trips are generated one day in advance, but trip record can be added manually as many days in advance as required to create one of these “ad hoc” changes for some particular date in the future.

For example: If the mother of a student who normally rides the bus informs you that she will be picking up her child from school in two weeks, click Add a student Trip, and set Student, Date, and Transportation Method = “Car.” If the exception is for today or tomorrow, click Find Student Trips, open the trip record for that student, and make necessary updates.

Read more about how logistics requests submitted on Parent Portals can simplify this process.

Traveling With

The “Traveling With” field is helpful for indicating that a student is traveling with another one.

The field is set from a trip record, found by querying Student Trips from the Transportation homepage. Navigate to the trip record of the “guest” student who is traveling with another student. On their trip record, enter a student’s name in the “Traveling With” field.

When trips refresh, the “guest” student’s transportation method for that day will be updated to match the person they are riding with, and the guest will be listed as a scheduled non-rider for their normal transportation method.

Afternoon Bus Lists

Click the built-in query Today’s Afternoon Bus Trips to see today’s bus trips to take students home. It can be a helpful starting point to make an exception if, for instance, a parent calls to say a student will be getting picked up rather than taking a bus. Click the Person Trip ID to see the trip detail and create the exception.

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