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Where's the school bus? Hall County parents, this app has your answer
11162021 MYSTOP 1.jpg
Hall County Schools Transportation Systems Administrator Edgar Flores checks a monitor Monday,. Nov. 15, 2021, showing GPS locations of school buses from the transportation offices on Atlanta Highway. The system keeps track on a map the location of each school bus. - photo by Scott Rogers

Where is the bus? 

If you’re a parent in the Hall County School District and your child rides the bus, there’s now a way to get an answer to that question. 

Thanks to the new MySTOP app launched last week and available for Apple and Android devices, you and your child can track your bus in real time on your smartphone or tablet, much like when you order food on a delivery app or wait for an Uber.

“You can literally see the bus while it’s moving,” said Edgar Flores, assistant transportation administrator, who oversaw the app’s launch, adding that the feedback from parents has been positive thus far. 

The app starts to provide tracking information 15 minutes before a route starts, though parents may receive custom notifications sooner about a delay or even whether a substitute will be filling in for their regular bus driver. 

For more information about how to download and use the app, visit the district’s how-to guide

The app may help relieve a little pressure on the district’s transportation department.

Since the start of the school year, the district has been grappling with an unprecedented shortage of bus drivers

And while staffing hasn’t improved all that much — the district is still about 22 drivers short — Director of Transportation Clay Hobbs said this app is a “really big” deal and should lower the volume of calls they receive from frustrated parents who almost invariably ask, “Where is the bus?”

“Parents can download the app and it will tell them how far and how long it will take for the bus to get from where it is to their bus stop,” Hobbs said. “We have routing software that has the plan of where the bus is supposed to go, and now we've got GPS on the bus, so the software knows where the bus is supposed to go, and the GPS knows where the bus is.”

In other words, the bus may still be late, but at least you’ll know how late. 

“In Gainesville and in Hall County, traffic is always a problem,” Hobbs said. “We try our best to plan for that, but sometimes you just can’t. You have weather that can cause delays. You have absenteeism — a driver calls out sick at the last minute. Those things happen on a daily basis.” 

Before, if even one route was late, his department would have to call the school staff, who would then send out a mass email to all parents at that school. Now, only affected  parents will receive a notification on the app letting them know the bus will be late. 

“For example, if that particular bus broke down, we can send out a notification that says bus XYZ has broken down and this bus will be 20 to 30 minutes later than normal,” Hobbs said. 

Hobbs said he and his team took their time developing the app so parents would have confidence in its usefulness once it was finally launched. 

“Our community has really been looking for something from us to be able to communicate this information with them,” Hobbs said. “We feel like it will be a wonderful tool.”


11162021 MYSTOP 2.jpg
Hall County Schools Transportation Systems Administrator Edgar Flores checks a monitor Monday,. Niov. 15, 2021, showing GPS locations of school buses from the transportation offices on Atlanta Highway. The system keeps track on a map the location of each school bus. - photo by Scott Rogers