The Transportation module tracks students’ journeys to and from school according to their transportation schedules, allowing schools to track their bus usage in detail, enables communication with families riding buses, has tools to receive bus change requests from families, and manages exceptions to a student’s schedule (e.g., after school activities) thanks to the integration with other modules.
Different Types of Transportation
Each school handles transportation a bit differently. The Transportation module may be used to track student trips to and from school using any transportation method, whether being driven by a parent, walking, or riding the bus (which is the most common use of this module).
“Door to Door” and “Bus Stop” Busing
The two most common busing schemes are “door-to-door” busing, where students are picked up / dropped off at their houses, and more traditional “bus stop” busing, where students congregate at specific bus stops for pickup in the morning, and are dropped off at specific stops in the afternoon.
Some schools may have a mix of both “door-to-door” busing and “bus stop” busing: some routes may go door-to-door, and other routes may go to specific stops. It will be important to think through how the bus routes will pick up and drop off students – whether directly in front of their home, or at a stop – as the first step towards configuring and using Transportation effectively in Veracross.
Whether bus stops or door-to-door busing are used, the key configuration is that Transportation Schedules (for the whole, or for a specific grading period) are configured, assigned to a Bus Route for either M-F or a specific day M,T,W,R or F, for either an AM or PM rout, and the system automatically places students on the appropriate bus following that schedule. Coming soon: a more detailed configuration article that goes over every possible configuration option.
There are four primary records the Transportation module uses. Each of these records may be added by the school according to their individual transportation needs. These four record types are explained below.
The following two records are used to schedule busing.
- Transportation Schedule: a student-specific transportation schedule for the school year. When a transportation schedule is created, individual student trips are generated from the schedule on a routine basis. This is where the “default” Transportation Method is configured for a student (e.g., “Bus,” “Car,” “Walks,” or “Bicycle”).
- Bus Route: the different routes used by all buses. Each bus route contains a list of all riders (students) expected to be on the bus for each day of the week. Bus Routes optionally may have Bus Stops configured as well. Bus Stops are not configured for routes that do “door-to-door” busing, but Bus Stops are used by schools for bus routes that provide more traditional “bus stop” busing.
Exceptions to normal busing arise when students have alternate arrangements, such as riding home with a friend, or participation in an after school activity. The following two records are where exceptions can be identified and tracked.
- Bus Trips: system-generated “Bus Trips” every day for each bus route. This record includes all regularly scheduled riders as well as the exceptions for that particular date, including any new riders not normally “scheduled” on the bus.
- Student Trips: a record detailing how a student got to or will depart from school on a particular day. The trip contains information about what transportation method (e.g., car, bus, or bicycle) the student will use or had used. If they rode a bus the trip contains information about the route, entry on and exit from the bus, who they rode home with (if applicable), and more. Student trips are created automatically based on the student’s transportation schedule and can be updated as needed in order to manage day-to-day exceptions. Read more about Trips below.
Accessing and Managing the Data
When the Transportation Module is installed, the following places in Veracross will enable viewing and managing this information.
- Transportation Homepage. This gives access to all core configuration, day-to-day driver lists, exception lists, and more.
- “Bus Route” detail screen is the key place where most bus route initial configuration occurs.
- “Transportation Schedule” tab on the Student Detail screen. This shows all scheduled bus routes and bus stops for a student, including the AM and PM routes.
- “Trips” tab on the Student Detail screen. This shows all trips for this student, which enables a complete view of all the times the student has ridden a bus.
If the student’s Master Attendance has been changed in a way that will affect the day’s busing, the trips are refreshed every thirty minutes and the student will be a “scheduled non-rider” for their afternoon trip. This might happen if, for instance, a student’s Master Attendance was marked Absent that morning, or if the student is participating in a Group Event such as a field trip or other activity that has dismissed the student for the day.
Attendance Integration with Group Events
If the student is included in a group event that extends past the afternoon bus departure time, that student won’t be listed as a rider for that date on their bus. If on the other hand the event has a return time prior to the bus departure time, those events will not have their attendance integrate with the afternoon bus trip, because the student has returned from the event on time and will still be riding the PM bus that day.
After School Activity Integration
If a Transportation Schedule record is created and references the After School Activity for which the student is riding the bus, then the Trip will also be created referencing that activity. This makes it easy to identify trips that are an “exception” due to an after school activity. This may occur if, for example, the student requires a later bus than usual one day a week due to participating in an after school club or activity. Transportation Schedule records are most easily created with this configuration if the “Transportation Required?” flag is utilized on the Class Enrollment record.
Extended Care Integration
Much like After School Activities, Extended Care participation may result in the student riding a different bus than their “normal” bus for the day.
Parent Portal Integration
The “Student Logistics Request” area of the Parent Portal can be used to convey information to the Parent about their child’s scheduled busing for any date into the future, including displaying exceptions for that date. This also shows the address and name of the student that their child is “riding with” for the day. This area of the parent portal gives the parent a place to request a busing change for a particular date, as well. Learn more about this here: Parent Portal “Student Logistics Requests."
Student trips do most of the “heavy lifting” for this module, and are generated based on transportation schedules, and all sorts of exceptions can be applied. Learn about scheduled exceptions, and learn about single-day exceptions.
There is a “Trips” tab under “Reports” on the Student Detail screen that is a helpful place to manage exceptions. All trips a student has taken will be listed here, including whether the trip was system-generated or not. System-generated trips are based on a schedule and has been refreshed by the system. Trips that are not system-generated were manually entered, e.g., by the transportation manager, or through a parent portal logistic request.
Fields on the Trip Detail
You can set exceptions for particular trips from the trip detail.
- Transportation Method. Update if a student is utilizing a different method, e.g., walking home instead of taking a bus.
- Bus Route and Bus Stop. Update the bus route and stop if needed.
- Stop #. This is inherited from the normal busing schedule and is used to sort stops.
- Traveling With. Indicate who the student is traveling with.
Exceptions can be managed under the “Origination” and “Destination” headers, meaning where the trip originated and ended.
- Origination. This is typically the student’s home or school, depending on whether it is a morning or afternoon trip, but could be updated to “Other” to track an exception (there is no further system functionality associated with the “Other” organization).
- Destination. Manually modify if needed.
On the right of the trip detail screen, some useful information is displayed as reference:
- Attendance Status and Attendance Notes. This information is pulled from the student’s master attendance at school for the day.
- Normal Transportation, Normal Bus Route, Normal Bus Stop. Displays the student’s “normal” transportation information, defined as their mode of transportation M-F
The Notes field lower on the right of the trip detail screen, however, does some important work. For example, if a student is marked absent for the day and the trip is refreshed, as noted in this article, the trip is automatically updated with transportation method, bus route, and bus stop all set to “none”, and “Absent” will be noted in the Notes field. If that student arrives late, the Notes field will be automatically updated with “Late Arrival” (or whatever your school’s relevant attendance status is), and the afternoon bus trip is updated to the student’s normal transportation method for that day.
“Normal Bus Route” and “Traveling With” Exceptions
“Normal Bus Route”
The After School Activity and Extended Care exceptions enable scheduling a single-day-of-the-week exceptions, which are most commonly used for after school activities that do not take place every day of the week.
If a student normally rides a particular bus home after school, but is participating in an after school activity, it is common for the student to ride a later bus than usual or perhaps take a different transportation method entirely (such as being picked up by their parents).
As a default, student trips are generated for the one “M-F” transportation schedule that is configured for that student. If on the other hand a student needs to ride a different bus one day a week, the trip is generated based on the transportation schedule configured for a particular day (whether M, T, W, R or F individually). The “Normal” fields on the Trip are populated by whatever route is scheduled for that day of the week, with an individual day of the week (M,T,W,R or F individually) acting as an override for the M-F schedule. This enables the Trips to be generated with the “Normal” route being recorded on the Trip record for that student for that day, which then is reflected in the scheduled non-rider report on the “Normal” bus route for the student if they are absent or otherwise missing their bus. This is also indicated on the “Exception” bus report. This way, the late bus driver can see which route the student “normally” would take, the “normal” bus driver can see the student listed as a “Scheduled non-rider,” and the transportation managers can also see this on the Trip information internally, enabling easier troubleshooting and more detailed tracking of where a student should be depending on the circumstance.
“Traveling With” Exceptions
Sometimes students travel with another student rather than taking their usual Transportation Method (for instance, for a playdate at another student’s home). The “Traveling With” field on the Trip enables the school to record when a student is traveling with someone else for that particular Trip. This results in the system updating the Trip route, bus stop, and address for the student who is “Traveling with” the student on this Trip.
When configuring the “traveling with” field on a trip, the person managing transportation is placing this student with the student specified in the “traveling with” field for that day. The script that refreshes trips will refresh this student’s transportation method, route, and stop to match that of the student specified in the “traveling with” field.
Rolling Over Transportation Configuration To Next Year
When the school year is over, if transportation schedules will largely be the same for the next year, the transportation manager should prepare to “roll over” transportation schedules. Read more about that by clicking here: Copy Transportation Schedules.