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WSFCS launches app to track school buses

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Parent Sylvia Bines is encouraging all families who have children riding a Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools bus to download the tracking app "Here Comes The Bus."

The app allows families to get notifications on when the school bus is close to their child's bus stop. Parents can receive notifications in the morning for pick-up and in the afternoon for drop-off.

"No more sitting at the bus stop wondering, 'Am I here too early? Am I here too late?'" Bines said.

Bines has an eighth-grader who she accompanies to the bus stop and she says the app helps them with timing. If the bus is running late, it keeps the pair from waiting outside too long. If the bus is ahead of schedule, it helps the family get out there in time.

"A lot of kids may go out to the bus stop and wait 15 or 20 minutes, that certainly doesn't have to happen with this app," Bines said.

The school system officially launched the service to families on Thursday, but have been testing it in advance with parents like Bines. Once parents download the app and register with the program, they can get detailed information concerning bus transportation.

The app allows you to set up a notification radius, ranging from 500 feet to two miles, from a bus stop. You can start receiving notifications of when the bus is arriving within the radius range that you designate. It also gives an estimated time of arrival and an actual time of arrival. If there is a change with your child's bus number, it will let you know that as well. Information refreshes every 30 seconds.

The service is free to families. Parents will need their child's student identification number and the school district code to get signed up. The tracking information is not public, parents only have access to bus tracking information for their child.

WSFCS Executive Director of Transportation Darrell Taylor says parents will especially appreciate the app during the winter months.

"Students not having to stand out in the cold, the rain, the snow. They can wait in the house where it's warm until they know the bus is just about there," Taylor said.

All of the school buses have been equipped with GPS devices to feed information back to the tracking app. The school system transports more than 30,000 students.

Families can download the app from their smartphones and also access the service on their tablets and computers. To get started with downloading the app, click here.

The school system has agreed to a five-year contract for the Here Comes The Bus service, which is offered in other school systems nationwide. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools is the first to launch this program in the Triad. The cost associated for the program was not immediately available but was paid for through the school system's budget.