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Student RFID Bus Card Pilot Program

RFID Card Pilot

HCPSS is conducting a pilot program for a student bus identification card. The pilot program is being conducted through the end of the 2023-2024 school year at several HCPSS schools that are serviced by Zum Services, Inc., which has the required hardware and software readily available.

Identified bus-rider students will be provided with an RFID (radio-frequency identification) Card, on which a student’s assigned bus is stored on a contactless chip in the card that will be scanned when a student gets on and off their bus.

Jump to: Card Benefits | Pilot Details | Student Experience | Info For Families | Resources | Contact

young girl smiling and holding a Zum RFID bus card. Blurred in background is Zum van with driver standing outside.

RFID Card Benefits

Having student bus-riders use an identification card is crucial to HCPSS’ work to provide safe and efficient bus transportation. The use of the student bus card will:

  • Ensure students on the bus are quickly identified in an emergency situation
  • Allow parents to track when students enter and exit a school bus
  • Assist if a student is reported lost
  • Identify if an unauthorized rider tries to board a school bus

In addition, the use of student bus cards will help HCPSS increase the efficiency of bus service. The information will assist with the optimization of school bus routes by providing accurate ridership and capacity data so that the school district can make adjustments to routes and service. HCPSS does not currently have a mechanism to track student ridership information, which, at this time, is gathered by counting students loading and unloading buses.​​

Pilot Program Details

The pilot program is being conducted at Bellows Spring and Forest Ridge elementary schools, Ellicott Mills Middle School and Atholton High School through the end of the 2023-2024 school year.

Zum bus cards are plastic cards the size of a credit card and use the same contactless RFID technology found in metro transit passes, corporate access cards, and other commonly used ID cards. Tapping the bus card records only the student boarding or disembarking the vehicle. The Zum RFID bus cards are not GPS-enabled and cannot track or follow a student’s movements outside of getting on or off their bus.

Following the pilot program, HCPSS staff will evaluate the ridership data, as well as feedback from school administrators, students and families, bus drivers and Zum staff. Expanding the student bus cards program will be dependent on the pilot evaluation, funding, and other criteria.

The Student Experience

Eligible students will be given their RFID cards at school in late April.

Student bus cards are uniquely assigned to students and cannot be shared. Students’ first names and last initials are printed on the cards to help with identification.

When boarding or disembarking the bus, students will tap their card on the card reader installed at the front of the bus near the driver. When tapped, the card wirelessly transmits a unique code to the tablet on the bus, which knows which student is assigned to that code.

No eligible student will be denied bus service if they lose or forget their card.

View an accessible enhanced transcript →

For Impacted Families

Families of eligible bus riders at Bellows Spring and Forest Ridge elementary schools, Ellicott Mills Middle School and Atholton High School will receive additional information via email prior to the start of the program at their school.

Parents/guardians will have access to their student’s ridership information via the Zum app, which many families already use for bus pickup/drop off information. The Zum app is available for free download on the Apple Store and Google Play. Additional details on downloading and using the Zum app are available online.

Resources & More Information

In addition to the information above, HCPSS has answers to many of your frequently asked questions on its Help website. Zum also provides FAQs on its website.


If after reviewing this page and the relevant FAQs, you still have questions, contacts are as follows:

  • Student RFID Bus Card Pilot Program: Email HCPSS Transportation Planning Manager Paul Bertulis at
  • General Questions About HCPSS Transportation: Call the HCPSS Office of Student Transportation at 410-313-6732 or complete the OST online contact form.
  • Zum App Questions or Technical Support: Call Zum at (855) 743-3986 or via email at