Shelton school buses getting tech upgrade

Shelton buses will soon be receiving a technological upgrade.

Shelton buses will soon be receiving a technological upgrade.

SHELTON — The city-owned buses are getting a technological makeover. 

The Board of Aldermen, at its meeting Tuesday, approved spending a total of $176,680 for the purchase of 60 new cameras and additional hardware and software for the new routing system for the buses operated by city-owned Shelton Student Transportation Service. 

All the costs will be covered by federal American Rescue Plan funds, according to Mayor Mark Lauretti. 

“It is all about transporting children safely,” said Fran Freer, administrative assistant to Lauretti. “The goal is to also improve communication between the bus company, the schools, parents and the city. The integrated software will improve communication between home, school and the buses.” 

The city reached a deal with Tyler Technologies for the new routing system, equipment for which will be purchased, according to Lauretti, now that the aldermen have approved the deal. The city will be paying $128,700. 

“This is a major enhancement from what is there now,” said Lauretti. 

Superintendent Ken Saranich said he understands the new system will be able to provide GPS tracking of the buses so parents can log into an app and see the location of their child’s bus in real time. 

Freer said the school bus routing software was piloted over the summer, and the new routing was ready for the start of the school year. This latest purchase is the software and hardware associated with the installation of GPS tablets for each bus. 

According to Freer, the tablet allows for each driver to get real-time, turn-by-turn directions both visually and through audio. The purchase also includes student card reader software, which Freer says will allow students to use ID cards that allow the bus company and schools to know who is on a bus, who left the bus and what stop the student left the bus. 

The software purchase also includes the creation of a parent app, through which parents track their child while on the bus. 

“(Lauretti) has made a commitment here. The city owns the buses, and he is continually pushing to improve the operation,” Freer said. “This does that. It is a real advantage to the drivers to have these GPS tablets.” 

The new Pro-Vision cameras come at a cost of $43,980. 

Saranich said the new cameras are an upgrade to new technology, adding that it is “important for student and driver safety.” 

In June, Shelton Student Transportation Service secured 10 Pro-Vision cameras as part of a pilot program. The new digital cameras have a wider fish-eye lens which offers clarity that captures a greater breadth and depth on the bus, including the main passenger and bus driver areas. 

“We are replacing the original cameras, (which) are like eight years old,” Lauretti said. “The technology has changed. It is much better now, and the time is now to replace them all.” 

The new cameras replace the analog technology of the older cameras presently being used. 

Bus company officials said the success of the pilot testing and the need to replace the old cameras prompted the request for the 60 cameras. 

The new cameras are being installed, Freer said. The new routing system hardware and software installations are expected in winter or early spring.