Chancellor Banks announces launch of bus tracking system in Queens Community School District 26

David Banks schools
Schools Chancellor David Banks (QNS file photo)

New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks on Nov. 17 announced the launch of a new school bus tracking system to be used within Community School District 26. This marks the next phase of the NYC Student Transportation Modernization Plan.

Known as the Via platform, it will allow families and schools to receive real-time updates and tracking information of students as they travel to and from school on public school buses. Access to this will give schools and families increased transparency and visibility. Additionally, it will allow for lines of communication between schools, bus companies and families to be expanded.

“As a parent and chancellor, I know that at the forefront of every parent’s mind is the safety and well-being of their children,” Banks said. “That is why I am thrilled to be rolling out this program, which will provide peace of mind to families and open communications pathways between students, schools and bus companies. As the largest student transportation system in the country, we are constantly looking to improve service, and I am grateful to our partners at Via, our hard-working bus drivers and the dedicated staff within the Department of Education who are making this possible for our young people and their families.”

The NYC Student Transportation Modernization Plan was first introduced by the New York City Department of Education (DOE) in 2019, in partnership with the City Council. The COVID-19 pandemic halted the project before recommencing during the 2020-21 school year, with small-scale testing of the system to ensure that each component was successful before this expansion. At 472,000 users, this tracking system is expected to have one of the largest technology footprints in the DOE.

“As the parent of a young school-age child, I understand how it important it is know your child is getting to and from school safely,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “The recent expansion of the Via platform to Community School District 26 gives thousands of Queens parents much-needed peace of mind by assuring them their children are being transported safely on our city’s school bus network. I strongly commend Chancellor Banks and his entire team at the Department of Education for their commitment to expanding the Via platform and to implementing the entire NYC Student Transportation Modernization Plan.”

The Department of Education’s Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT), in partnership with the leadership for District 26, held multiple information sessions for schools, families and bus drivers before the program’s official launch. As part of this rollout, OPT will work closely with users to collect feedback and immediately identify and resolve any issues that may come up.

“I am so excited to see this program launching in my district, so that our families never have to wonder where their student’s school bus is again,” Community School District 26 Superintendent Danielle Giunta said. “This platform will allow parents to track where their child’s bus is when they are on their way to and from school — letting them know when to head out in the morning when it is cold and rainy and when their child’s bus may be running late due to traffic. I’m thankful to all District 26 community members for coming together to make this a reality.”

Additional details on the plan and the Via platform are available on DOE’s website, which will be updated regularly, including with details on a forthcoming citywide launch date.

“I applaud Mayor Adams and administration’s efforts to provide families in School Community District 26 with real-time updates as their children commute to and from school on our public school buses,” said Councilwoman Linda Lee, co-chair of the Queens Delegation. “Eastern Queens is a transit desert that lacks access to reliable public transportation, and like any parent, the safety and wellbeing of our children is a priority in my mind. The Via platform will put the worries of our parents at ease and provide an extra measure of communication, security and transparency for our families as we continue to create ways to improve student transportation service across the city.”

Community School District 26 consists of Bayside, Oakland Gardens, Fresh Meadows, Douglaston, Little Neck, Glen Oaks, Floral Park, Bellerose, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills, Hillcrest and parts of Hollis Hills and Holliswood.