“Samsara is a must-have for every transportation department. It helps us run a more efficient operation.”
GUS RODRIGUEZ, DIRECTOR OF TRANSPORTATION, COMAL ISD
School district spanning five counties ensures the on-time and safe performance of its fleet with Samsara’s fleet management platform:
- Transportation team required accurate real-time bus location to improve service to parents and to analyze route performance
- Deployed Samsara VG-series gateways across 250-bus fleet, uses Samsara Dashboard to coordinate buses, routes, safety, and maintenance
- Samsara provides real-time bus location, showing progress along routes
- Route Analytics report compares planned vs actual route performance
- Vehicle diagnostics notify maintenance department of issues as they happen
- Safety Report enables team to identify opportunities for training and driver rewards
If punctuality were an art, Gus Rodriguez is a master. As Director of Transportation of Comal Independent School District (ISD), Rodriguez is responsible for the on-time pickup and delivery of 8,500 students.
Comal ISD spans 5 rural, rapidly-growing counties. Since the district spans 589 square miles, the distance from homes to schools is unusually far. Parents rely heavily on the buses and can’t afford for their kids to miss the bus.
“On time performance is very important to us. We absolutely must pick up and drop off students on schedule.”
Frustrated with their previous GPS solution’s long delays and malfunctioning hardware, Rodriguez began searching for a better way to track the punctuality of the buses. “We looked at a lot of vendors, searching for a way to get the real-time location of our buses.”
When Rodriguez tried Samsara, he noticed a big difference versus all the other solutions. “Every other solution we tried had data points every 12, 30, or 60 seconds. With Samsara we can see the vehicle moving down the road.”
Between the live vehicle location, easy to use Dashboard, and vehicle maintenance features, Rodriguez was hooked on Samsara and installed VG-series gateways in the 250 bus fleet. Now Rodriguez and his team run their daily operations using Samsara.
“My staff relies on Samsara. There’s no going back.”
Dispatchers use the dashboard to track the ongoing progress of each bus along the set routes. They see when buses are running early or late, instantly identify issues, and contact the drivers to ensure they pick up every student. If a bus deviates from the set route, they can see exactly where it’s headed, down to the street with Helicopter View.
The district’s largest city, New Braunfels, is the second-fastest growing in the United States. With its massive population growth, the team is constantly planning and expanding its operations. Comal ISD has a dedicated team of route planners who study population growth, new student registrations, and plan routes.
The route planners use Samsara to set up new routes, including stops and times for every bus stop. As the planners add stops Samsara automatically calculates the drive time between stops, so the routers have a good estimate of how long routes should take.
At the end of every day, area supervisors review the timing and planned versus actual routes for each bus in Samsara’s Route Analytics Reports. They clearly see if buses deviated from the planned routes and determine the reasoning for the change.
Maintaining a 250-bus fleet is no easy task. The Comal ISD maintenance department monitors the status of each bus using Samsara’s maintenance features. The technicians identify issues with the real-time diagnostic information and can preemptively order parts even before drivers realize there’s an issue. “Sometimes we even surprise the driver - we’ll ask them ‘have you checked your gauges?’”
“Samsara has transformed how my team operates to one that’s now proactive instead of reactive.”
If there’s a critical issue, Samsara sends text message alerts to the maintenance team. “We instantly know what’s wrong with the vehicle, ” notes Rodriguez. The team notifies the driver and coordinates the offloading of the students. They use Helicopter View to identify the bus’ exact location and dispatch a backup bus to pick up the students.
Comal ISD has a robust safety program with regular trainings and driver incentives, and the safety trainer leans heavily on Samsara for up-to-date information. The safety trainer uses Samsara’s Summary Report to monitor safety KPI’s throughout the day, watching to ensure drivers are not speeding or braking too quickly. They drill down into specific driver behavior trends in the Safety Report and identify opportunities for training or driver rewards. “We never had a way to review safety data before Samsara.”
Rodriguez and his team are known for their innovative approaches to age-old bus fleet problems. Between their driver incentive programs, bus-based advertising, express buses, and in-bus educational television programs, the Comal Transportation Team is constantly pursuing new ways to make rides a better experience for all. Samsara is now their central tool for coordinating their bus operations across four stations and 21k miles driven each day.
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