First Student officials show off new bus technology, including GPS tracking, digital cameras and more

Andrew Peterson

MILWAUKEE -- School will be back in session for most kids in the Milwaukee area Tuesday, Sept. 4, and there will be some big changes on the bus for students. One of the biggest transportation companies operating in our area has made a number of improvements to its buses this year.

"When I first get on the bus, I need to check the airbrake system to make sure there aren't any issues," said Andrew Peterson, area general manager, First Student.

Peterson showed FOX6 how drivers will use new technology to address any mechanical issues that might pop up.

"We want to check and make sure everything is secure to the bus," said Peterson.

A handheld device will send a prompt to the driver at various checkpoints around the bus.

"And then it goes to our maintenance department, and then they have electronic records that we are going for preventative maintenance on the bus," said Peterson.

Peterson said 30,000 children along 480 bus routes in the Greater Milwaukee area will notice some other changes. All First Student buses will be equipped with GPS tracking.

"In a state of emergency, or something going on like a water main break, we can get a hold of our school bus and school to let parents know what is going on out there on the road," said Peterson.

It also ensures that drivers are on time, and monitors their speed and other red flags behind the wheel, like slamming on the brakes. Digital cameras will line each bus for students safety, and coming soon, a student check-in service called "Z Pass" will allow parents and school districts to know when a student gets on and off the bus via an app.

"The world of technology -- that's the beauty of it. The transparency that data provides," said Peterson.

All of the monitoring the drivers do with their pre-trip checks gets sent automatically to the mechanics working at First Student. That way, they know what needs to be serviced and which buses are running smoothly.