Of course, GPS tracking also delivers accurate, up-to-date mapping with traffic conditions. Some GPS solutions have partnered with trusted resources such as Google Maps, which provides zoom capabilities all the way down to street level. Dispatchers can use this information to adjust routes if necessary, help drivers avoid delays or make last-minute changes to service.
The mapping features of the software can help dispatchers quickly send a replacement bus to convey the passengers stranded by a broken-down or otherwise disabled bus. This can help save valuable time, mileage and fuel costs.
Increasing Security and Safety
GPS fleet tracking can also help improve security and safety for drivers and passengers alike. Should a bus go missing for whatever reason, GPS can help a company recover it and any onboard equipment quickly. Some systems even offer features that send an alert if a vehicle is used during off-hours. If the bus goes off its route at any time, the system will know. And in the unlikely — but not undocumented — event that a bus has been stolen, there isn’t a faster way to track it down.
Of course, proper maintenance is key to ensure that buses are compliant with safety guidelines and up to date on repair schedules. Some GPS fleet tracking systems feature alerting functions to let the user know when vehicles are due for routine maintenance or other scheduled appointments. This can greatly help reduce repair costs and other fees. And again, with the increasing concern about the environment, keeping vehicles properly maintained will reduce the risk of harmful emissions and fulfill other green efforts.
Monitoring Driver Behavior
Without a doubt, any transportation organization is only as good as the drivers it employs. As mentioned above, a GPS fleet tracking system can relay a variety of information regarding driving behavior, including speeding, idling time and unauthorized vehicle use.
Besides encouraging drivers to behave more responsibly on the job, it can also protect them in the event of an unwarranted complaint. The reports in a GPS fleet tracking system can prove, for example, that the driver was indeed following local speed laws, made stops at the appointed times and stuck to the established route. This can be a benefit not only for mass transit, but is key for buses that regularly transport under-age students.
A recent study conducted by Motorola found that companies that use GPS technology save an average of $5,484 per employee per year. But that savings doesn’t just come from reducing fuel costs. The clerical features of a GPS tracking system can streamline processes in the office as well as on the road.
Many systems also provide the ability to automate timesheets. The user can know exactly when a driver starts and stops a route and takes a break, without having to rely on manual timesheets. This can greatly streamline payroll processes and help avoid costly expenditures due to timesheet falsification or unintentional errors. It virtually eliminates time-consuming checking about employee overtime.
Types of Systems
The GPS fleet management systems currently on the market offer one of two methods of tracking: active tracking and passive tracking. With active tracking, the data from the GPS receiver is transmitted at regular 60-second intervals to provide real-time location information. However, with passive tracking, all the GPS data is stored in the receiver during use, and is not transferred until the vehicle returns to the depot. Even passive systems that boast the ability to send updates every five, 10 or 15 minutes aren’t offering truly live updating, which is necessary to maximize the economic benefits of having the system.
Something else to consider is whether the system you choose is client-based or Web-based. Client-based systems involve software that is installed on the user’s computer. As with most software, this requires manual upgrades and downloads to stay current with updates and can only be used on the computers that have had the software installed.
With a Web-based system, information about a company’s fleet is provided securely over the Internet, accessible via login and password. Some providers have even evolved with the latest smartphone technology to offer tracking via a mobile application, giving the user the ability to access maps, reports and alerts about a fleet from an Android-based handheld or iPhone.