Dist. 150 deploys new technology for its bus riders

By Ashley McNamee

January 7, 2014 Updated Jan 7, 2014 at 11:53 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- Christmas break is finally over for thousands of central Illinois students. Wednesday morning, more than 9,000 District 150 students will brave the weather to catch the bus.

For more than 12 hours Tuersday, dozens of employees worked to re-start the district's 154 buses after days of sitting idle in the Polar Vortex. Now that the buses start, the issue will be getting them around to pick up students Wednesday morning.

"The buses should be fine out there," said Anthony Mendoza, director of transportation for the district. "It's a little snow packed and iced in spots but we'll have supervisors on the road if there are any issues. "

And there will be dispatchers watching each bus carefully.

"We can actually go online and see exactly where that bus is," said Mendoza. "We know what path it took so we can tell the parent it's not at your house yet, it is down the street. It's about 5, 10 minutes away."

Now parents can receive that information directly through the district's new Bus Bulletin program.

"Our dispatchers actually go into the system and send out an alert, said Mendoza. "It is pretty quick and easy. It is pretty much up to date, the parent can get a phone call, text message or email or combo of the three.

Beyond technology, district officials say proactive parents can make all the difference in this weather.

"Make sure there is a path cleared, a safe place for them to be off the street, away from cars," said Chris Coplan, District 150 spokesman. "A safe route to get to that bus stop or to get to school."

With single digits temps expected for Wednesday's commute, safety will be significant.

To sign up for the Bus Bulletin, visit: http://www.psd150.org/Page/16942