Student transportation is complex — and oftentimes, it’s taken for granted until something goes wrong. Through our First Planning Solutions™ team, First Student offers a dedicated team of in-house knowledgeable experts focused on providing comprehensive consulting services that go beyond daily bus operations and help you plan for your community’s future.

First Planning Solutions™ provides routing and scheduling solutions for the challenges you face every day. We start by analyzing your transportation needs and goals, and then combine the right technology and resources to produce the best outcome for your district and community.

System Assessment:
We provide a comprehensive assessment of your current routing operations, including systems, people and processes. Consulting services we provide include the following:

  • “What If” Studies, Bell Time Reviews and Change Studies: First Planning Solutions provides the expert research, analytics and recommendations for you to make a well-informed change to your system by simulating the scenario and evaluating the potential outcomes.
  • Boundary Planning: We review and implement the best routing solution based on your system requirements, configuration, data population and a variety of other elements.
  • Custom Hardcopy Maps: We generate custom maps to meet school district planning and communication needs.
  • Comprehensive Transportation Studies: By studying every component of a transportation program — from operations and staffing to maintenance and equipment — we develop a cross-functional study that identifies the strengths and weaknesses of a program and suggests opportunities for improvement.
  • State Funding Report Assistance: We assist you with the challenging compliance process of state funding and general transportation reporting.
  • Meet our First Planning Solutions™ Leadership Team!

 

New Systems:
School districts often have a small window of time and limited resources to advance students to the next school year within their system and prepare new routes. We can help you set up your new routing system in such a way that it quickly and fully integrates with your current transportation operation.

Ongoing User Support:
We provide the expertise and experience to prepare routes and student data throughout the school year. We also operate a Help Desk staffed by experienced technicians who troubleshoot system and technical issues.

Online/Webinar User Training:
We provide in-depth training and Help Desk support for all of the leading routing platforms.

Green Initiatives:
The development of an efficient routing program lends itself naturally to reductions in greenhouse emissions, excess idling and fuel consumption that positively impact your community.

 

Finding a Partner in Routing

Bristol Board of Education (BOE) has been a First Student customer since 1996 and, until recently, had operated its own routing program. Prior to working with First Planning Solutions™ (FPS), the district was experiencing major problems with its routing system. According to Director of Student Transportation Greg Boulanger, “Our routing software didn’t interface with our database – it didn’t function in the field like we were told it would by the software company,” he recalls. “The customer support was also less than desirable.” 

When our student transportation contract ended in 2014, the district included routing services in their new Request for Proposal, prioritizing implementation of routing for their new contract award. 

Due to the routing expertise of FPS, the new contract was awarded to First Student. FPS helped the district assess its routing needs and recommended a switch to Versatrans software for the new school year start-up. Greg Ross, FPS Senior Project Lead, worked with the district and First Student’s local operations team to plan and implement a full transition to the Versatrans routing software. 

“First Planning Solutions and First Student made this a seamless transition to our new transportation routing software. They put countless hours into going through every single route,” says Boulanger. “It’s a painstaking operation, with weeks of leg-work up front to get it right. Routing is not a plug-and-play exercise.” 

Today the Versatrans system works smoothly in the field across 289 routes and 3,389 stops per day. The district now has the ability to import emergency data for police investigations, and can also easily answer parents’ questions in regard to which bus their child is on, when and where the child can be picked up or dropped off, and other important information. The E-Link data is automatically updated online each evening with oversight from onsite routers. 

By working with FPS to fully utilize the Versatrans system, Bristol BOE achieved the opportunity to maximize route runs, eliminate stops and potentially reduce the number of vehicles needed, as well as to curb other related route costs such as fuel. Ultimately the district will be able to reinvest money from these new efficiencies into their educational mission and purpose. 

Mr. Boulanger’s advice to other school districts considering their routing options: “First Student delivered everything it promised in their prospective bid using Versatrans. The other companies did not — they fell way short.”