Elk Island Public Schools are trying out a high-tech way of keeping track of the students who ride their school buses.


A student swipes his pass on a scanner on his way onto a bus. The scanner system is now installed on all of Elk Island Public School's 170 bus routes. (CBC News)

Children now carry a pass that they swipe through scanners installed on the bus so that school officials can see when they get on or off the vehicle.

"This technology would enhance student safety," said Lisa-Marie Weder, director of student transportation.

"To see that the students get on the bus. We can watch the buses travel."

Weder says they've never had a case of a child being left behind on a bus, but they've had many cases of children found sleeping after everyone else has left.

The buses are also equipped with GPS devices, which allows officials to see if a driver runs into mechanical trouble or other delays during the trip.

A smartphone app will also allow the parents to track the bus, and check if their child is on the right one.


Lisa-Marie Weder with Elk Island Public Schools says GPS device on the buses lets school officials know if there's been a breakdown or delay on the route. (CBC News)

That part of the system is a comfort to parents like Sheryl Macri, who waits for the bus every morning in Sherwood Park with her daughter Ella.

"She's only Grade One and she hasn't been on the bus by herself … But I like that added security to know that she's actually on the bus."

Marci says it also means she doesn't worry about her daughter being left on the bus.

About half of the 16,000 in the district, which has schools in Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan and other areas, take the bus.

The cost to install the system on 170 bus routes is around $260,000.

Weder says it's well worth the cost.

"For us, it's really just a safety issue."