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Re: School bus routing software
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,
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.
22 Executive Park Court
Germantown MD 20874
Subj: School bus routing software
Date: 4/4/2000 12:53:57 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Hi! I'm looking for (affordable) software to plot school bus routes,
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