School Bus GPS Tracking at Hillfield Strathallan College Enhances Transportation Services: A Trackem Case Study

6 minute read

Enhancing transportationHillfield-Strathallan College logo


This case study highlights the successful implementation of school bus GPS tracking by Trackem GPS, into a school bus fleet and how it has enhanced transportation operations at Hillfield Strathallan College (HSC), one of Canada's largest independent, co-educational day schools. The study focuses on the challenges faced by HSC due to its large student population spread over a large geographical area and the need for real-time school bus tracking. By adopting Trackem's GPS tracking system, HSC significantly improved parent communication, reduced call volume, and enhanced operational efficiency. The case study demonstrates how Trackem's comprehensive solution provided accurate real-time bus locations, benefiting parents, students, and the transportation department at HSC.


Hillfield Strathallan College (HSC) has established itself as one of Hamilton, Ontario's premier educational institutions since its inception in 1901. With four schools catering to students ranging from 18 months to 18 years old, HSC attracts students from a wide area in and around Hamilton, resulting in a diverse student population of over 1200 pupils. To meet the high transportation demand, HSC operates its own fleet of 31 school buses. However, the transportation department faced challenges in effectively managing the bus fleet and addressing the high call volume from parents seeking real-time bus status updates.

Enhancing Transportation Services for Hillfield-Strathallan College

Transportation Department Challenges:

Unlike most public or Catholic schools in the City of Hamilton, which mainly serve students from local neighborhoods, HSC caters to students from across the Greater Hamilton Area, spanning over 1,200 square kilometers. This wide geographical coverage presented a unique transportation challenge for HSC. Parents from various locations needed accurate and timely bus location information to plan their pick-ups. On any given day, traffic, construction, or inclement weather, among other potential variables, can delay pick-ups or drop-offs. The high call volume to the transportation hub placed a strain on staff resources, requiring an improved system to handle the influx of parent inquiries.

Implementation of Trackem School Bus GPS Tracking:

Recognizing the need for a school bus GPS tracking system to manage the bus fleet efficiently and provide real-time location information to Transportation Department staff and parents, HSC chose Trackem GPS as their tracking provider in February 2015. The decision of enhancing transportation services was seen as a win-win, as it would enable parents to access bus locations in real-time, alleviate call volume, and provide HSC with the many benefits of a leading real-time GPS tracking and telematics system.

Trackem App on Phone eating breakfast

Key Features and Benefits:

Trackem Fleet Trackers:

Trackem installed Fleet Trackers in each of HSC's 31 buses, chosen for their robustness, options, and scalability. The installation of hardware was handled by Trackem installation technicians. The Trackem team worked closely with HSC to customize the Trackem GPS platform account according to the specific functionality needs of the Transportation Department and parents. The Transportation Dept. can access the full web-based system dashboard, maps, reporting, maintenance, fleet, driving behaviour, and analytics capabilities (plus more), while parents can view a simplified mobile app.  The Fleet Trackers were programmed with one-minute GPS ping intervals, providing accurate and up-to-date bus location information.

Real-time School Bus Location Tracking:

With the Trackem GPS tracking system, HSC gained the ability to track their bus fleet in real time. The one-minute ping intervals allowed transportation staff and parents to view bus routes with good accuracy. Parents could access the Trackem mobile app to see the precise location of their child's bus within a small time window, enabling them to plan their own travel and pick-up accordingly. Parents are provided access to only see the bus related to their own child and not the entire fleet. Using geofences, notifications can be set to alert parents of when the bus is close to their child’s bus stop. 

Enhanced Parent Transparency and Communication:

The implementation of Trackem significantly improved parent communication at HSC and they have greatly appreciated what the GPS tech provides. Parents were granted access to the Trackem mobile school bus tracking app, which provided them with real-time school bus location information. Providing the parents with a simple real-time look into the location of the bus, from their smartphone was a game changer. This feature alleviated the high call volume to the transportation hub as parents could independently track the buses and plan their pick-ups/drop-offs with accuracy to accommodate their busy schedules. The Transportation Dept. was never set up to manage such a high call volume. The streamlined communication process resulted in a major reduction of calls, saving valuable staff time and convenience for the parents.

School Bus Fleet Operational Efficiency:

By leveraging Trackem's comprehensive solution, HSC achieved enhanced operational efficiency alligning with their sustainability goals within their transportation department. Real-time bus tracking enabled the transportation team to optimize routes, predict and mitigate delays, and ensure punctual arrivals and departures. The GPS tracking system empowered the Transportation Dept. to make data-driven decisions, understand driving behaviours, schedule and notify for maintenance, analyze routes and working hours, see top-line analytics in a customizable dashboard, and see the fleet in real-time. 


“As a Manager for Transportation for over 30 years, I cannot say enough about the Trackem GPS system. Trackem is very reliable and provides all the important information required to be successful in providing a Safe, Secure and on time service to our students and families. On top of that, Trackem’s customer service is outstanding!” 

Angela Asher, Manager of Transportation at Hillfield Strathallan College


Results and Conclusion:

The implementation of Trackem's GPS tracking system transformed HSC's transportation operations, addressing the challenges posed by their large and widespread student population and the need for real-time bus tracking. The system's robust Fleet Trackers, coupled with one-minute ping intervals, provided accurate and timely bus location information to both the transportation department and parents. The enhanced parent communication feature reduced call volume to the transportation hub, saving staff time and resources. Additionally, the real-time tracking capabilities enabled the Transportation Department to optimize routes, minimize delays, and ensure punctual arrivals and departures, resulting in improved operational efficiency and student punctuality. Overall, Trackem proved to be a reliable and transformative solution for HSC, enabling them to provide seamless, secure, and on-time transportation services for their students and families.


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