The Tide’s View: Smith’s bus app saves parents and students


Graphic by Valerie Wang | Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Superintendent Smith’s bus app proposal can save time for students.

The Tide Editorial Board

Imagine this: You are waiting outside at the bus stop in the dead of winter, shivering as you look for the bus. Soon, 10 minutes have passed, then 20, 30, and you and the other 15 students at your bus stop begin to feel uneasy. After what feels like an eternity, your bus finally comes, and you arrive at school 20 minutes late, missing half of first period.

This inconvenience will hopefully soon be no more, as Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is planning a project where buses will be installed with a tracking GPS, and a mobile app will provide timely morning and afternoon school bus arrival information.

Superintendent Jack Smith’s recommended allocating $750,000 to the project after complaints about late buses straining parents as they try to drop off and pick up their children. This budget for a mobile app is a great use of funds allocation, allowing for more efficiency and ease as parents send their children to school everyday. 

Many RM students and parents are looking forward to this bus delay notification system. “I live really far away, so I have like an hour bus ride, and I do think it could be potentially helpful to know where the bus is—especially if the bus is really late, and you want to know if you should wait,” junior Hannah Levy said. For buses that are tardy or never come at all, the system’s new bus tracking app would help eliminate confusion and frustration for families. 

This app would also be very beneficial for families with students going to different schools. It is always a frantic race to get every child to school on time and not knowing if the bus is on time can cause another student to be late to school. The GPS system would allow parents to plan ahead of where to drop off their students, so this app would lift pressure from the parent’s shoulders. 

Even though the program would help a lot of families, many have objected to the 4.5 percent increase in the budget to accommodate for the app, creating a total budget of $2.8 billion. However, for MCPS, student safety should be prioritized. Late buses could be very dangerous if students cannot find shelter while waiting during hazardous weather conditions. With a mobile app that “provides real-time [GPS] information for parents and guardians to know the location of our buses,” according to Superintendent Smith, children will not have to worry about this risk.

Parents also have a cause for concern when trying to pick students up for the stop if the bus is late and has yet to reach the afternoon stop. This pertains to students who do not carry cell phones—especially elementary and middle school students—and thus cannot easily contact their parents if their bus is late in the afternoon. 

Furthermore, late buses can impact attendance records at a school. Sophomore Maggie McDermott said, “There have been a couple times where the bus hasn’t come for like 30 minutes and people just leave and don’t go to school that day.” This not only affects the school’s attendance record, but even missing 30 minutes of first period due to a late bus can be detrimental to their learning if this becomes a regular occurrence, resulting in poorer grades and reduced comprehension. 

Neighboring school districts such as Fairfax and Prince George’s County already use a school bus tracking app called “Here Comes the Bus,” which provides accurate real-time bus locations through text alerts and a customizable map. Incorporating this app in Montgomery County would allow students and their guardians alike to experience the same kind of assistance that others have already received.

As the Board of Education reviews Smith’s recommended budget, the revised version will be released on March 16. Allocating funds to implement an accurate school bus tracking app would greatly make Montgomery County safer and be a worthwhile part of the budget. The student body has a voice in MCPS’ decision and this decision directly impacts your life. So show support for this project, or be left stuck in the snow.