Land O' Lakes, Florida -- Confusion, even panic, from parents worried about kids left at school bus stops could all be ending in Pasco County.
10 News told you about one case, where a mom says her son's summer school bus never came -- and she had no idea.
The district disputes her complaint. But they are not disputing that their system is broken. So Monday, they launched a cutting-edge plan to fix it.
Pasco County's "Transportation Transformation" is rolling out with new technology that you'll see only on 10 News and wtsp.com.
This year, all of Pasco County's nearly 400 school bus routes will pass through one room. It's inside Building 8A at district headquarters in Land O' Lakes. Volunteers are training to answer 48 phones there in a new back-to-school bus call center. After decades of confusion, anxious dads and worried moms will now have one place to call for answers.
The information the volunteers will use comes from an impressive new app, programmed by one of the county's transportation supervisors, Tad Kledzik.
"Coming back to school, it's back into a routine," Kledzik said. "And this is a routine that we feel will help us keep better track of where our buses are throughout the day, as well as student safety and keeping accountability for where those buses are."
The "My Bus Loop" app is not available to the public; its information is used at the bus call center. With the app, the call center operators can track buses, even though the district's fleet won't have GPS installed until next year.
People at each school will have an iPad or computer. Every bus will get checked in as it comes or goes -- and at elementary schools, they'll even check in every student. That info pops up instantly at the call center for the volunteer operators to use.
To put it plainly, up until now, Pasco's back-to-school transportation response has been essentially thrown together. Parents would call their child's school, all five bus depots, or other places in a scattered search for information. The goal of this "Transportation Transformation" is to change all of that.
"With the implementation of this app here in Pasco County, we'll be talking about the excitement of the first day versus the challenges," Kledzik said.
The "old school" way of getting to school is gone.
The Pasco County school bus call center phone numbers will be at the top of every Pasco schools website for two weeks, starting on the first day of school, Monday, Aug. 18. But if you want to save them into your phone right now, we have them for you: 813-794-2500 or 727-774-2500 or 352-524-2500.