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'Love the bus' program thanks drivers for safe transportation

A few of the county's 1,700 bus-riding kids hop aboard at their stop in East Carbon.

Sun Advocate reporter

Carbon Schools Transportation Supervisor Kerry Jensen is a man on a mission, a mission to assist the American School Bus Council in honoring the men and women who get Carbon County's kids to school safely. On Monday, parents, students and teachers celebrated the those within the Carbon School District who deliver more than 1,700 children each day as part of the fourth annual National Love the Bus program.

Founded in 2007 and coordinated by the American School Bus Council, the Love the Bus program is celebrated every Valentine's Day and throughout February in school districts across the country. This program helps to raise awareness and appreciation for the hundreds of thousands of school bus drivers across the nation and allows the public to learn more about the safety and environmental benefits of school bus transportation, according to a Love the Bus press release issued for Carbon County.

For parents in Carbon County there is much to learn and much to love, commented Jensen.

With the VersaTrans software program making its way into the Carbon School District, parents, students, teachers and bus drivers will all be able to know exactly who gets on and off the bus at any given stop.

According to information from Jensen, the software has been created to blend with the Utah Student Information System. This will allow transportation planners to plot the most efficient routes. VersaTrans has the ability to remember average speeds for each road depending on time of day and can even go so far as to consider the difference in speed between uphill and downhill travel on the same street.

More importantly, the program has the ability to track and generate notifications concerning student pickups and student whereabouts.

According to Jensen, while the program can be complex, it's designers provide 24/7 support and are willing to train the district concerning just how to best utilize the system. Due to sheer numbers and the importance of child safety, Jensen and all within the district can't wait to see the system in action.

In Utah over 172,000 children ride to and from school on approximately 2,400 yellow school buses, making the need for complex routing software very real. And while cost savings are a definite benefit, the stress relief the system could provide for local drivers is also a major selling point. Caring for and honoring those who care for the area's children on the road is a focal point for the local school district.

"We want to honor the bus drivers that safely take the children in Carbon County to school each day," said Superintendent Patsy Bueno. "Love the Bus is a great opportunity to thank the people who protect our most precious cargo - our children - and serve as role models on the 480,000 school buses that transport children to and from school each day across the country."

It is important to note that school buses are, by far, the safest vehicles on the road, with safety records confirmed by government authorities to be better than any other form of transportation. No small feat considering the amount of time buses and bus drivers spend on the road.

Throughout February, the district and the American School Bus Council will be conducting a series of events to educate and celebrate Carbon bus drivers.

"Give some recognition to your child's bus driver," said Jensen as he submitted the information concerning Love the Bus. "And remember, for every 32,500 children transported on school buses, one life is saved each year. In Utah, at least five of our children are saved each year."

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