School district launches app that lets parents track school buses

Posted at 3:48 PM, Aug 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-30 11:45:37-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- As kids head back to school, one local district is making it easier than ever for parents to keep track of their child's school bus.

Forest Hills Public Schools have launched the Versatrans My Stop app, which parents can download and uses GPS to show them where their kid's school bus is on their route.

"We want to make sure that the bus driver is someone we trust and is first focused on keeping our kids safe," said Rebekah McDowell, whose third-grade daughter Addison attends Forest Hills schools.

The app also helps parents see where their child is when they were supposed to get off at their stop but never did.  That has happened to the McDowell family in the past.

"It took quite a while and we knew that she was scared because we weren't with her, and I couldn't find her because we didn't know where the bus was," said Rebekah.

Now, McDowell won't have to worry about tracking her daughter's school bus thanks to the app.

"They're able to get push notifications about the status of the bus," said Darryl Hofstra, Director of Transportation for Forest Hills Public Schools. "If it's running a little off of schedule, if it's late, maybe a little early, they'll be able to know that.  They'll be able to see the bus and the estimated time of arrival at their bus stop."

Parents simply download the app, log in and search their child's bus route.  Parents like McDowell say it will be especially helpful when it comes to West Michigan's unpredictable weather.

District officials say the app comes with airtight security, so no one will be able to track ab us or even create an account without the right information.

"They have to be able to access their student's information and use pieces of that to access the system," Hofstra said. "Then they are required to change that on the initial log in so only they know what it is."

That's  something McDowell says she and her husband already tried out.

"Without our student's exact ID numbers he couldn't even get on the app," she said.

The app is free and is available on both Apple and Android devices.  It can also be viewed on a computer.