BOSTON — Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Carol R. Johnson outlined sweeping changes to the district’s transportation department on Tuesday that are expected to increase on-time performance and improve communication with families beginning with the next school year.
BPS has already begun routing fall transportation routes, months earlier than usual. In addition, BPS has made changes to the way routes are planned, and officials are reviewing loading and unloading procedures.
“We don’t want to ever again experience the transportation troubles we had this school year,” Johnson said. “We moved from a 65% on-time figure this fall to one that is consistently above 90% today, and to do so we took an in-depth look at how our system operates. We directed our transportation department to make significant changes that will enable us to serve our families better than ever before.”
In March, Johnson appointed Carl Allen as the interim director of transportation. Officials said that Allen, Assistant Chief Operating Officer Kim Rice and the BPS transportation team have kept arrival times above 90% for the 14th straight week.
Johnson also directed the transportation department to improve customer service. The department launched a computerized call tracking system to allow staff to better monitor and respond to calls from parents about bus transportation. The system is connected to the mayor’s 24-hour hotline. BPS has also scheduled additional operators, cutting down on wait times during peak periods.
The transportation staff has undergone customer service training as well to better equip them to assist families that call with issues.
Moreover, in anticipation of the new school year, BPS staff will operate under a new set of procedures, including:
• Begin planning routes in the spring.
• Review routes to ensure drivers have enough time to navigate between stops, and to give drivers more opportunities to test routes in real-world conditions.
• Review loading and unloading procedures to ensure that drivers have plenty of time to safely unload buses.
• Allow parents to identify alternate afternoon drop-off locations in advance so that most stops can be routed before the school year begins.
• BPS will engage drivers and other stakeholders, such as school principals, to identify potential route problems early.
Johnson has also declared June as the first BPS driver appreciation month. The district will invite students and parents to share notes of appreciation with their bus drivers and will host special events to celebrate the more than 700 bus drivers who transport students every day.