New buses to provide safer commute to school this fall - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

New buses to provide safer commute to school this fall

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There's a whole new generation of buses rolling into the town of Agawam.

As back to school season quickly approaches, school officials are making sure students who take school provided buses are traveling safely.

Aboard each bus is a brand new software system called Versa-Tran.

It's provided by the Lower Pioneer Valley Education Collaborative, the host bus company to the school district.

"What the system does is it efficiently routes your buses," said Superintendent William Sapelli.  

Agawam is only the second school district out of seven under contract with the LPVEC to debut the new transportation management solution.

"What we found by them doing it this year with this program it cut down, believe it or not, 120 miles a day," said Sapelli.  

And that's not only saving extra time and money, but Sapelli said the new technology is also creating a safer environment on the buses for students.

"Through the GPS system they can track the bus. They can tell you how fast the bus is going, if the buses are using their flashers and signals and they can tell when they finish their routes," explained Sapelli.

Each bus has an updated camera that monitors both video and sound.

And there's one feature in particular that was designed to make sure no student was left behind at the end of the day.

"Once you shut the bus off there's a ping sound which is a reminder to go all the way to the back of the bus to deactivate that ping," said Sapelli.

This causes drivers to make sure there aren't students in the back of the bus who may have fallen asleep on the way to or home from school.

And with the new routes provided by Versa-Tran, Sapelli said there may be some changes to bus numbers that parents need to watch out for.

"Which numbered bus is coming to your neighborhood to get your elementary student may be different than your middle school student or junior high students. So it's something parents have to watch out more now than in years past," said Sapelli.

The list of bus number changes can be found by visiting the school district's website.

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