By Amy Wadas

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Some local kids are going to get a big surprise at the bus stop when they go back to school.

They’re going to be riding in some really cool, high-tech buses; and parents are really going to like one of the new features. It’s going to give them peace of mind.

“After 38 years in the business, this is probably the finest school bus that I have seen,” says Ron Ferek, of Student Transportation of America. “Lower maintenance cost, better for the environment and safer for kids.”

Also, they’re the most technology-equipped buses in western Pennsylvania.

The new buses in the Pine-Richland School District use clean-burning propane instead of diesel fuel.

They’re also equipped with two-way radios, three-way surveillance cameras, and a child check-mate system that requires the bus driver to check and make sure no kids are left behind.

“If they don’t do that, and they leave, the horn will start to blow, the lights will go off and on,” says Ferek.

But these features are only the beginning.

“STA offers an app for your smartphone that will allow our school districts and the parents to connect themselves with the vehicle,” Ferek says.

Each bus is also equipped with a GPS unit that allows dispatchers to view the location of every bus en-route. It will also allow parents to track their child’s bus using an app.

Anyone can download the SafeStop app, but you have to get authorization from the school district before you can track where your child is.

The app costs about $5 a month.

“I can’t think how many times we thought we missed the bus when it was just late or in the afternoon when I start to worry and wonder where my child’s bus is,” says Chris Pryal, a parent.

“I think it would make him feel less worried when I’m late or when I get home early sometimes,” said Kellen Hughes, a student in the Pine-Richland School District.

The district assistant superintendent says this new GPS tracking app won’t be available to parents right away. Administrators want to learn more about it before they give it the green light.

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