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Green Your School Bus Fleet Using CalAmp’s Fleet Management Software

  • March 17, 2022
  • Bill Westerman
  • Reading Time: 3 minutes
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A school bus traveling down a highway.  Photographed with a tilt-shift lens. Diesel school buses are major polluters, but fleet managers can reduce emissions and fuel use with the help of telematics-based data insights.

Electric school buses are the way of the future, and for good reason. Today’s diesel school buses generate more than 5 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. And students who inhale school bus exhaust fumes on their daily journeys may suffer lung damage as well as cognitive effects that lead to lower test scores.

But even once federal funding becomes available to help municipalities purchase electric school buses, replacing today’s diesel buses with EVs and the infrastructure needed to support EVs won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, there are steps      fleet managers can take to reduce the environmental impact of their diesel school bus fleets with the help of fleet management software such as CalAmp’s K-12 fleet management solution.

Reduce idling with idling reports and alerts

Unnecessary school bus idling wastes fuel and generates emissions that pollute the air in and around the school bus. Students sitting in the back of the bus may be especially vulnerable. School bus exhaust fumes can even enter school buildings through air intakes, doors and windows.

Idling reports and custom idling alerts can help you enforce your idling policy (and state or local idling laws) and identify drivers who aren’t compliant. These drivers may need additional coaching. To encourage drivers to turn off their engines whenever possible, consider publicly acknowledging and rewarding those with good idling records.

Optimize and enforce routes with trip histories and planned vs. actual reports

How often are your bus drivers following the planned route? Most school bus drivers are diligent, dedicated professionals, but a few may use the bus to run errands or take the long way home in order to pad their time card. Drivers who deviate from the planned path add unnecessary miles and therefore burn more fuel and create more emissions. A GPS fleet monitoring system can help.

In CalAmp’s solution, planned vs. actual reports clearly show any deviations from the plan of record. If the driver strayed from the route, you can see at a glance not only where they went but also at what time and how long they stayed at a given location. Want to know immediately if a driver departs from the planned route? Simply geofence the route and set a geofence violation alert.

Of course, real time GPS tracking plays a valuable role, too. With this location data, a dispatcher can help out if a new driver gets lost, saving unnecessary driving.

Finally, trip histories combined with data analytics can help school districts plan smarter, more efficient routes.

Reduce emissions and fuel use with preventive maintenance

Poorly maintained buses burn more fuel and create more emissions, and fluid leaks can contaminate local waterways. But more frequent preventive maintenance isn’t always the answer. If, for example, you perform oil changes more often than necessary, you’re buying, and discarding, more engine oil. Odometer-based bus fleet maintenance is the smart approach. Odometer readings can be tracked in the maintenance scheduler that’s part of      CalAmp’s fleet management software.

In between scheduled maintenance, engine fault code alerts can tell you when a bus is experiencing an engine problem, even if the driver fails to report that the check engine light is on. These diagnostic trouble codes (DTC) allow you to systematically monitor your entire bus fleet and take immediate action based on fault severity.

Curb aggressive driving with driver behavior reports

Driver behavior monitoring can also help reduce the carbon footprint of your fleet. That’s because speeding, excessive braking and hard acceleration all cause the bus to burn more fuel than necessary.

Telematics data reveals which drivers have a lead foot. This information is critical to fleet safety as well as fuel efficiency. While school buses remain a relatively safe mode of transportation compared to passenger cars, accidents do happen. According to the National Safety Council, school bus-related crashes killed 109 people nationwide in 2019.

America’s school buses drive roughly 3.5 billion miles transporting kids to and from school each year. Every mile contributes to climate change and adds pollution to the air. Smarter school bus fleet management enabled by a feature-rich telematics system is the key to reducing the environmental impact of diesel fleets until the day when electric school buses become the norm.

Learn more about CalAmp’s K-12 fleet management solution and schedule a demo to discover how it can help you increase the sustainability of your fleet.


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