Students in Columbia will have a new ride to school this year

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COLUMBIA - 212 new school buses are being revved up for the new school year.

Columbia Public Schools held an event Tuesday welcoming Student Transportation of America or STA, the districts new transportation provider.

Last year CPS board members unanimously voted to change providers and signed a contract with STA that cost about $50 million.

"We were given the opportunity to get all new buses," said the President of the Columbia School Board of Education James Whitt. "We get to work with a company that is really focused on customer service and care about the product that they put out."

STA moved into CPS's transportation facility on July 13.

"STA had been targeting Missouri for a while," said Denis Gallagher the CEO and founder of STA. "We set our sites on here about two years ago. We wanted to find the right opportunity in the state and Columbia was one of the largest contracts in the state and this was a great opportunity."

Gallagher said the new buses have updated technology in them such as GPS systems, cameras on board and what Gallagher calls a child check system on board.

"This system requires the driver to walk to the back of the bus at the end of his shift and use a key to shut the system off," Gallagher said. "This makes sure that no child is left behind on the bus after their ride."

STA has tested these technologies in 22 states. 

STA also has an app coming out this year called Safe Stop. The app is designed for parents to use when they want to track their child's bus. 

"The app is designed to take the question out of where's the bus," Gallagher said. "Parents will also be able to see when their child was dropped off and they will have the security of knowing that."