ScuolApp, developed by Cilia Italia, enables parents of users, through private access credentials, to observe the position of their bus in real time and estimate the arrival time at their stop, as well as to get useful information about the different lines.

ScuolApp is an innovative app for school buses that was designed by Cilia Italia, a subsidiary of RATP Dev Italia. “Transporting school children is a sensitive issue involving a very important part of the society, the children”, explains Giuseppe Ottone of RATP Dev Italia. “We have therefore focused closely on offering a quality service that meets the expectations of both users and municipal councils”. The app was developed bearing in mind the need to provide real-time information to parents and to reduce the number of calls to the company call centre. Cilia, which manages the school bus concession, also wanted to show families and municipal councils that it is open to innovation.

Using a card system based on RFID technology, the bus driver associates the vehicle to the bus route and the control system every morning. The school children have a smartcard which they swipe over the on-board reader when they get on and off the bus. The parents log on to the app with their smartphone, tablet or PC to see whether or not their child is on the bus, where the bus is in real time, the route it has taken, the exact time the bus arrives at the collecting point and what time it gets to school. The company can also use the app to give real-time information to the families; for example, weather and traffic conditions.

ScuolApp, which uses a digital approach to manage the system and provides unrivalled flexibility, also has other advantages for the company. “In a tender situation, municipal authorities pay great attention to the information and help that bidders offer to users”, added Mr. Ottone. “We are currently the only company to provide this type of service, which gives us a technical head-start in any tender process.”

The app also supplies information about the user’s payment status. When a child swipes his or her smartcard over the on-board reader, it activates a signal showing whether the pass is valid or expired. As Mr. Ottone pointed out, “Our job is to move children, so we would never refuse them access to the bus, but the system is extremely practical for communicating with parents regarding a late payment”.

ScuolApp was operating in a couple of municipal councils at the end of July 2018, with a total of 300 families benefiting from the service. In light of other successful tender bids and positive feedback from councils, it has since been offered and accepted on new bus routes. Nearly 1,100 families are now using the service.

 “A quality school bus service is a driving force that delivers value-added to the entire transport system”, concluded Mr. Ottone. “It also fosters customer loyalty, both in children who are growing up and in parents who are happy with the excellent quality and safety of the service.”