Where is the kids' bus? School districts get on board with real-time bus tracking

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The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round – and now you can track them with your phone.

A handful of school districts in Minnesota now offer parents a way to locate the school bus their child either is about to get on, is currently riding, or just got off of.

For many users it's as simple as logging on to the site (via computer, tablet or smartphone) and punching in a username and password.

From there, you can see the bus' current location, the direction it's facing, and where your child's bus stop is.

"This will be a great benefit to parents on snowy mornings and afternoons, but also simply to see if the bus will be home on time,” said John Thomas, Transportation Supervisor for Eastern Carver County Schools.

Thomas' district became the first in the metro to begin school bus GPS tracking with the MyStop program.

Burnsville-Eagan-Savage has the system set up now too, and Robbinsdale recently added it. Minnetonka is also on board.

The company behind it, Tyler Technologies' Versatrans, says it cuts down significantly on phone calls from parents wondering about where the bus is.

A spokesperson with Tyler Technologies told BringMeTheNews there are currently five school districts in Minnesota using the bus tracking service, and seven more that are testing it, or have recently purchased some of the parent technology involved.

In January of 2014, CBS News detailed an Indiana family using the Versatrans system.

"It's been great because I can send them out about two minutes before the bus is headed into our neighborhood. So they aren't standing out there in the cold or the rain," Jo McCoy told CBS News.

She can even track the bus as it heads to school, after her children get on.

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Is the technology more expensive though?

For the most part, nothing is being added to the buses in Minnesota. The Star Tribune says buses in Eastern Carver County already had a GPS device onboard, and that's the norm for most of the state. The data is just being made available to parents now.

St. Paul set up a tracking program last month – though it doesn't use GPS like these other systems. MPR says it simply tells you if the bus is running late, based on contractors' reports. It costs the St. Paul school district $6,250 a year.

The Osseo school district uses a similar system.

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Parents need to provide their children's student ID numbers to sign up.