Broward’s school-bus woes extend to unfinished GPS system

If you’re an iPhone user frustrated by Apple’s new glitch-filled maps app, just remember it could always be worse — and by worse we mean the expensive GPS purgatory occupied by the Broward school district.

In 2007, Broward spent nearly $900,000 to begin outfitting school buses with GPS equipment. Eventually, the district planned to have GPS in every school bus, which would allow bus routes to be quickly adjusted based on traffic conditions, road construction or any unexpected delay.

It all might have worked great — and might have helped during this year’s busing problems — except the district had to abandon the effort halfway through, after its finances were decimated by state budget cuts.

So, after spending close to $1 million, Broward was left with GPS on less than half of its 1,300 buses, and the version of GPS that it has is basically unusable. Broward could never afford to upgrade its GPS software beyond the “read-only” trial phase, so it can’t run data reports or do any of the advanced route monitoring the GPS was supposed to provide.

“Everything is in suspended animation,” said transportation supervisor Vince Harrell.

The system is so bare-bones that drivers can’t even use it to pull up directions. Moreover, there’s no tech support for it after June of next year, so if Broward wants to do GPS the right way, it’ll have to start from scratch.