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July 19, 2013  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Hawaii to launch initiative to reform school bus system

By Kelly Roher


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HONOLULU — The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is rolling out the first phase of its “Get on Board” initiative, a multi-year, multi-faceted commitment to reform its public school bus transportation system.

The initiative is scheduled to kick off on the first day of school — Aug. 5 — and will serve as many as 1,000 students at 30 schools who use buses in the Aiea, Moanalua, Pearl City, Radford and Waipahu High complex areas.

The first phase will reflect routes from last year and includes route restoration to Aiea Heights, Halawa Heights and Waikele Elementary School attendance areas. Officials said one of the more significant features of the Get on Board initiative is the use of a technology solution that includes routing software, GPS, and an updated and contemporary contracting and procurement process.

The DOE is planning to implement Get on Board at all Oahu schools by 2014-15, and then statewide the following school year.

“The pilot areas for Get on Board were strategically chosen by what makes the most fiscal sense to the department, our bus contractors and taxpayers,” said Ray L’Heureux, assistant superintendent in the DOE’s Office of School Facilities and Support Services. “There is a large amount of riders in these areas — enough to give us important data on ridership we need to move forward with our reform efforts.”

Last year, the DOE announced more than 100 bus routes were being eliminated statewide due to rising costs and a loss of funding, but some routes were restored after the department faced pressure from lawmakers and the public, as SBF reported.

Since then, officials said the DOE has streamlined services and also contracted Management Partnership Services to conduct a study of Hawaii’s student bus transportation system.

In addition, the DOE has developed a number of communications protocols between bus vendors, schools, parents and students to ensure the most efficient level of service.

Parents can register their children for bus ridership at their schools. Letters to public school parents are being mailed regarding bus registration requirements. The department has established a Get on Board Call Center at (808) 206-7936, or via e-mail at getonboard@hawaiidoe.org.

Earlier this month, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law two Senate bills that give the DOE more flexibility in how it awards its bus contracts.


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