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Re: School bus routing software



Jan:

Microsoft Excel has a feature called "solver" (linear programming) that lets 
you calculate the minimum or maximum values for any series of equations. I 
bet you could set it up to find the minimum number of buses and routes, but 
you'd have to have a comprehensive knowledge of the present system. Plus 
you'd have to turn that knowledge into a series of simple equations. 
(Example: if each bus (b) must complete its route in under 1 hour to make 
sure no one was late to class, you'd include a restriction that the time (T) 
of each bus must be less than 1, or T(b)<1. That way solver would provide no 
solutions that involve buses taking longer than an hour to pick up students. 
You could set up similar restrictions with miles, number of students per bus, 
etc.)

I have used solver to calculate the minimum or maximim values of waste 
generation processes (most product, least waste or cost), or to compare 
between two or more technical options to find the optimum solution 
(expensive-to-operate but existing method verses cheaper-to-operate but 
capital-intensive method), depending on what is important (cost, labor 
availability, capital availability, etc).

However, using Solver is like doing your taxes: the time spent researching 
and inputting the right information is the hard part, not figuring the 
solution once everything is entered. I suspect that would be true of the 
existing School Bus programs, too.

Seems like I also saw someone on P2Tech recently who was using linear 
programming for their doctorate, doing similar work.

The right programmer would probably take this project on as a challenge for 
free. Even if not, it still might be worth the time to learn and try Solver 
before spending $10K!

Best of luck.

Mark Boylan
General Manager
WASTREN, Inc.
22 Executive Park Court
Germantown  MD  20874
301/540-0022
(f) 301/540-0088
wastemin@aol.com

---------------------------------------Reply 
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Subj:    School bus routing software
Date:   4/4/2000 12:53:57 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From:   jhygnstr@unlnotes.unl.edu
Sender: owner-p2tech@great-lakes.net
Reply-to:   jhygnstr@unlnotes.unl.edu
To: p2tech@great-lakes.net

Hi!  I'm looking for (affordable) software to plot school bus routes, 
especially
in rural areas, as a P2 strategy. We've done some preliminary web searches and
looked at school fleet magazines, but have only found software for upwards of
$10,000, requiring megatraining. Neither of these are realistic for rural
schools. Any ideas?

Jan Hygnstrom - Extension Project Manager
247 LW Chase Hall
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68583-0726

Phone: 402-472-9614     Fax 402-472-6338