We have spent over twenty years developing, enhancing, and customizing our own transportation computer system. Previous manual processes and record keeping are now completely automated. Most programming is completed in-house by our technical staff, as well as the President of the Company. Our computer system records all data from parts usage to payroll hours in a concise and clear method that simplifies reporting to all levels of management. Since we write many of our own programs, we can customize reports on a day's notice.
We have recently upgraded our information technology infrastructure to improve the speed of our real time server connection between facilities and allow us to take advantage of the latest technology including Call One™, which in turn improves service and saves our districts money. This technology enables us to send instantaneous phone messages, texts and emails to our employees in mass quantities. Mechanics use touch screen technology to access vehicle history files and bar coding to identify parts inventory. We also use Internet purchasing, online banking and document scanning. We have learned how to maximize the routing and mapping software that our customers use. This enables us to assist in computer routing and design creative solutions to save our customers money. Mapping software and GPS database analysis both play a critical role in confirming trip length, passenger loads, and school times in order to help districts maximize their resources. As a result, our customers have peace of mind knowing that they are provided with efficient, tiered schematics and shared services.
This school year we implemented iPads™ connectivity issued to our road supervisors to further improve communication. Student and routing information are now at our finger- tips. This technology has proved to be very meaningful when responding to accidents, recording driver observations as well as in situations involving bus incidents. The road supervisors have an automatic link to district routing software such as Edulog and Transfinder.
We rolled out an Internet-based employee portal last January. This portal will give each employee a direct line of communication to view all safety newsletters, enter safety action cards, sign up for upcoming mandatory safety classes, access school calendars and much more. Employees can also view all their State and Federal government requirements so they can ensure prompt compliance with these regulations.
Our Operations Support team is consistently dedicating time to analysis of data to ensure that all routes are efficient and districts are getting the most of their cost savings. We have written computer software, which connects directly from our in-house routing system to Microsoft MapPoint which enables us to time all routes effectively. Zonar™, our GPS system, can also connect to MapPoint to help with van efficiencies and will assist our districts in large bus routing and mileage sensitivity analysis.
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Our Company has taken a leadership role with regard to environmental issues. We are proud to have signed a new agreement with Long Island-based Unique Technical Services (UTS, formerly EMD), to design innovative plug-in hybrid electric school and commercial buses and trucks. The battery pack for this bus is the same as the one used in the all-electric 18-passenger transit vehicle currently running in Europe and Canada (called Techno Bus). This project follows the successful design and installation (by our own shop) of two hybrid capacitor school buses now in service in Suffolk County. Suffolk Transportation is the first school bus company to enter into a joint venture to help design an all-electric school bus. Our investment in this venture demonstrates our commitment to finding a viable transportation alternative that we believe will lower emissions, improve safety and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
As outlined, equipment technology has been changing rapidly over the last few years and will continue to change dramatically. All vehicles now have electronic engine, transmission and brake controls. This helps improve safety and reduce pollution. Starting with model year 2007, all vehicles meet the new federal standards for emissions. This is accomplished with an on-board computer to control the engine and fuel injectors, a gold plated catalytic converter, and diesel particulate filters (DPF). All of these add costs and a great deal of sophistication to the vehicle. We are taking several steps to insure that we are ready to meet the maintenance challenges of the future. In addition to a strict hiring process for all mechanics and our own in-house training program, we are working with a private consultant as well as local vocational schools to develop specific diesel/school bus maintenance programs for our mechanics. We are also hiring graduates from the New York Automotive & Diesel Institute, in Jamaica, NY. This is a 900-hour program, after which these candidates enter a 6-month apprenticeship program at our facility.