What if your child's bus is running behind, affected by a schedule change, or, the unthinkable, involved in an accident? Bay District Transportation Officials have a quick way to notify you of any changes via text message, e-mail, and/or automated call.
"Just about anything, as far as the bus is concerned that the parent needs to know, we can put on Bus Bulletin," said Transportation Director Robert "Bob" Downin.
Bus Bulletin is a notification system for transportation departments to easily notify parents. The District has used the program for more than two years. This year, Downin said about 1,200 families are registered, but more than 13,000 students ride a bus each day.
"Bus Bulletin does a real good job, if we just had more people who were signed up for it," said Downin.
Founder and President Rick Smith said it takes just a few minutes to sign up. Parents can provide multiple phone numbers or email addresses and don't need to provide their child's information. Plus, it's free for parents; the District pays for the service. Standard phone and message rates do apply.
The idea for the system was born in Bay County. Smith said he would often sit with his children at their bus stop and would get frustrated when the bus was late.
"They [parents] can receive notifications when their bus is late, been involved in an accident, have a schedule change of any kind," said Smith. "They choose the route, which is the bus and the school, their children ride, and they will receive any notifications that is sent out by the transportation department."
Smith and his business partner Gordon Frobenius created a system they felt would be easy for both the district and parents to use. The notifications are almost instant, quick to send and receive.
"It takes typically four mouse clicks and ten seconds for them [the District] to send a notification," said Smith.
Schools Districts in Walton and Jackson County are also using the program. Smith and Frobenius are working with districts in other states to expand Bus Bulletin.
If you would like to register for the free notification system, check out the Bus Bulletin website.