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March 14, 2013

Tracking your child's school bus

BEVERLY, Mass. — The digital age has answered the question parents often ask: Where's the school bus?

A startup Massachusetts company is testing GPS technhology that will tell parents precisely when their kids' bus will arrive at the bus stop.

Public schools in this Boston suburb are participating in the pilot project, urging parents in a notice sent out recently to sign up for the service from WheresTheBus of Wayland, Mass.

Several school districts around the country have GPS devices in their buses to keep track of their fleet, but no district has refined the technology to extend access to parents, according to Joe Winkler, head of WheresTheBus.

Winkler said his GPS technology will be installed on all Beverly school buses at no charge. Parents then can sign up for a limited free trial that will allow them to track their child's school bus on any device with an Internet connection.

Winkler said he has yet to determine how much he will charge parents for the service once it goes pay.

"We're focused right now on proving this is something that helps people," he said. "If you're standing outside wondering when the bus is going to arrived, it's nice to hit a button on your phone and get the magic answer."

School Superintendent Marie Galinski praised the service as both a safety measure for tracking the school district's buses and a way to calm parents jittery nerves.

"If the bus is late, they will know that it is on its way," said Galinski. "It is a win-win for us and for the parents."

Kristine Murray, who has a kindergartner and a second-grader who take the school bus, said the service would be helpful but she'd need to know how much it costs before deciding to use it.

"It's definitely interesting," said Murray. "I don't know if we'd be willing to pay for it."

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Details for this story were provided by the Salem, Mass., News.

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