Nanaimo school district tracks bus ridership

NANAIMO – Student bus ridership tracked with the help of some new technology.

The Nanaimo school district can track student bus ridership via some new technology.

Nanaimo students registering for bus service have been issued a Z Pass card. According to Pete Sabo, school district director of planning and operations, information gathered will allow the district to determine if changes are required to bus schedules.

“As the student passes and scans their card with the Z Pass reader upon entering or leaving the school bus, the time, date and location is logged and transmitted to a secure database.

“Accurate information is available to answer parent and administrators’ questions accurately and cost-effectively,” Sabo said in an e-mail.

Parents can also receive alerts on their cellphones via a downloadable app.

When asked about privacy concerns related to information collected, Sabo said the district is committed to protecting the personal data of students.

Accurate details about if and when a student has boarded or exited a bus accounts for a sizable amount of calls parents make to schools, he said.

“The district already has a database on who gets on and off the bus. This new system assists in the process of collecting the data,” said Sabo.

Charlene McKay, Nanaimo school district parent advisory council president, said the council is waiting to see how everything plays out and hasn’t heard any privacy collection concerns from parents as of yet.

“The buses are equipped with [global positioning systems] to begin with, so the school district is essentially always tracking where the bus is, so I guess it’s an extension of that, but no one’s actually approached me specifically about it,” said McKay.

Sabo said the software won’t cause a change in bus routes. The software simply aids in collection of data that was already available, he said.

There are approximately 1,400 riders in the Nanaimo school district, said Sabo.