FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Parents, if you’re tired of wondering when your child’s school bus will arrive, or if you’ve already missed it, you’re in luck — there’s an app for that.
Created by Westport's Norman and Betty Tsang, parents of three, “Where’s Our School Bus?” is a free mobile app for iPhone and Android smart phones that provides real-time school bus location information. It was successfully introduced to the Westport community last spring, and is now available for use all across the state.
“We're hoping we can save thousands of parents and students time and anxiety every day,” Norman Tsang said.
The app works by using information provided by riders or parents of a particular bus. When a parent or student confirms the bus has arrived at their stop, that information is used to provide everyone else still waiting for that bus with its estimated arrival time. That information is also used to show those still waiting for the bus its real-time location on a map.
Because the app works using user-provided information, the more people on a bus route that use the app, the more accurate it becomes.
“Where’s Our School Bus?” also features a message board, in which members of a bus route can communicate with one another.
The Tsangs came up with the idea for the app last year after their oldest son repeatedly missed the bus, despite being at the stop at least 10 minutes before its scheduled arrival time.
As parents, they designed the app with privacy and security in mind. The app is anonymous, and personal information — including a user’s location — is never used or shared.
Westport resident Andrea Berkley, who downloaded the app in the spring after hearing about it from a neighbor, said “Where’s Our School Bus?” makes her life — and her kids’ lives — a little easier.
“It is such a great idea since there are many mornings and afternoons when the bus is running behind schedule,” Berkley said. “It’s very helpful to have a sense of when the bus will arrive and to be assured that we haven't missed it.”
Berkley said she finds the app particularly helpful in the morning, as her three children are the last to be picked up on their bus route.
“If we know, for example, that the bus hasn't even reached the first stop yet, then we know we have a little more time before we have to be ready at the bus stop,” she said. “Or if we know that the bus just left the stop before us, then we know it will be at our stop momentarily.”
To download the app, or for more information, visit the “Where’s Our School Bus?” website.