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New school bus tracking system in Lee County

FORT MYERS, Fla. – New GPS units in all Lee County school buses will track the drivers and save you money.

Last school year, an exclusive WINK News Call for Action investigation uncovered the driver of Bus 310 sitting for more than an hour on Michigan Avenue for no reason. Three days in a row, WINK News cameras rolled as the driver sat there, then an hour later drove back to the bus depot. We took that video to the school district’s transportation director, Robert Morgan.

“I would like to thank you for bringing it to our attention,” Morgan said in an interview in May. “This person is going under a scrutiny right now.”

During that interview, Morgan said he was hoping to get new Motorola GPS units installed in all district buses for the 2015-2016 school year. He said the units would hold drivers more accountable and catch drivers, like Bus 310.

This month, Morgan gave WINK News an exclusive look at how the GPS units worked. He pulled up the software on a computer and clicked on one bus’ route for that day.

“It tells you what time the bus operator came in, came online. It tells you every time the bus stops, if the door closes, if the door opens. It also tells you how far it went.”

The software lists the bus number, what the bus was doing, the start time, end time, length of time, coordinates and even shows you where the bus was at the time of the activity on a satellite map. Morgan explained every three to five seconds the satellites in the GPS gather the information from the bus and send it back to the bus depot. If a bus diverts from its route or is idle for an extended period of time, it will alert the bus depot.

“Parents question everything and they should. The social media that we have today, I would say transparency is key,” he said. “This is simple, fast and it’s absolute.”

Morgan said the new units also provide more safety for the students and drivers. Prior to these, the radios in the bus could not communicate with the bus depot outside of Lee County and there were several dead spots within the county.

“Just imagine if you went to a field trip in Charlotte County or you went to Miami or even went down to Collier. We do all these surrounding areas, we had no communication with the bus operator. I think the safety this provides for the students of this district is paramount.”

With the new GPS units installed in the radios, the drivers can communicate wherever they are.

The units cost the district $1.1 million and were approved in last year’s budget.

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