School Buses Linked to State Radio Network

Ohio County Schools bus drivers will no longer worry about locations without radio service, as the schools’ transportation department is introducing a new radio system that will improve communications between the transportation department and the schools.

Transportation Director David Ziegler told the Ohio County Board of Education on Thursday that Ohio County Schools has partnered with the Ohio County Emergency Management Agency and the Ohio County Commission to connect the schools’ transportation department to the statewide very high frequency trunking radio system used by the county’s fire and police departments.

Ziegler said the VHF radio system will allow the transportation department to contact buses traveling in areas of the county that the department’s current radio system cannot reach. Ziegler said a recent test of existing analog radios revealed that the current radio system does not provide full coverage of the county, with gaps found in areas around West Liberty, Bethlehem, Warwood and Short Creek. That prompted the department to look into providing a more comprehensive system.

“This will enhance our communications,” Ziegler said. “Now if we’re out in West Liberty, we have a hard time communicating with our buses. This will fix that, because the system connects with three towers throughout the county that will help us reach our buses no matter where they go. Our main goal is being able to contact our buses throughout the entire county, no matter where they might be.”

Ziegler emphasized that the radio system is statewide and will allow buses taking students on trips to other areas in the state to keep in radio contact with Ohio County.

To connect to the state radio system, a digital radio will be installed in every Ohio County bus and service vehicle, replacing the analog radios currently in use. Also, all county schools will receive a radio to keep in direct contact with the buses.

“We always need to contact our buses if there’s a kid that needs picked up, or we might have to reroute our buses because of the weather or oil trucks or they break down. They need to be able to contact us. We need this regular communication so we can always stay in contact with the buses,” Ziegler said, noting the department plans to install the radios within the next few months. “This radio system has endless capabilities. We’re going to start out slow for the things we need right now, but the capabilities should take us way into the future with communications.”