AN INNOVATIVE occupancy safety check system – namely to ensure no child is ever left unaccompanied and trapped on a bus – is being rolled out across 50 school buses at Victoria’s Warrnambool Bus Lines, its designers confirm.
Known as the ‘Clear of Bus Check’, the Transportme-spearheaded initiative aims to address the disturbingly perennial anomaly of children being left on a bus, with an incident in Queensland earlier this year even eventuating in the tragic death of a toddler trapped in a hot minibus.
In light if such an event, Transportme says it fast-tracked the Clear of Bus Check technology, working closely with Warrnambool Bus Lines and its tech partner Isanet to ensure, “…this next-gen development was both simple to use and fool-proof for [bus] operations.”
The behind-the-scenes development is what ensures this check is: “…99 per cent fool-proof,” Tooth adds.
“What we had to ensure and look at when developing this Clear of Bus Check was driver error and complacency,” Tooth said.
“We needed to make sure that if the driver did not complete this check in the manner that they should – the chain of command is notified and can rectify the situation.
“Obviously we cannot go into details on how we have achieved this, as it is both fairly intense, but also an IP issue.
“Isanet have been able to provide us with some very user-specific hardware to ensure our development can be fulfilled,” Tooth said.
According to the company, Clear of Bus Check ensures a driver is required to walk to the rear, inside of the bus, to complete their check.
The system ensures management is notified and drivers are notified if the check needs to be complete. Basically, it’s using a linked pin code generator at the rear of the bus to ensure the driver walks to it, sees it, and then enters the pin into the interface in the driver’s area. The code is small enough that they have to get quite close to read it, Transportme managing director Nigel Tooth explains.
“We had heard of stories of drivers pressing buttons on the rear of buses with broomsticks – and that’s the sort of issues we knew we would have to contend with, hence why we spent many hours working with Isanet on the logics of the system, and what could happen if a driver did X or Y,” he explained.
“In the end, we now have a comprehensive system that will ensure drivers complete their check and will drastically reduce the chance of any child or passenger being left in the bus.
“But just as importantly, management are fully aware that the check has or has not been completed.
“If we can avoid tragedies such as the death of the young child in Queensland then I think it has to be a good thing.
“We encourage all operators to look very closely at their systems – but also how do they know that their drivers are definitely, 100 per cent, performing these checks?”
“This is something that they must be certain of, as no-one wants to see a repeat of what happened in Queensland,” Tooth said.
Headquartered in Coffs Harbour, NSW, Transportme is a patented ticketing, reporting and vehicle tracking software system designed specifically for the school and public passenger bus transport market, it states.
Its software provides real-time visibility of fleet, passenger and student movements, and enables seamless interface to the operator and office operations via desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone, it explains.
Since 2013 the company’s system has been used by more than 1,000 schools and bus companies across Australia and New Zealand, including a range of both metro and rural operators in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and New Zealand.
BusNSW and QBIC recently released safety information on developments of the Transportme system relating to Covid-19 and cashless ticketing, and a check to ensure no child is left on the bus.
Accolades include winning: BIC 2014 Environmental Operator of the Year Award, BusNSW 2014 Innovative Operator of the Year Award – and named in the Business Review Weekly (BRW) Top 50 Innovative Companies 2014 (Appster/transportme™ Flagship Product).