BOSTON — After a rigorous bidding process, Boston Public Schools (BPS) and the city of Boston awarded Veolia Transportation a contract to manage operations and maintenance for the school district’s fleet.
The five-year contract begins in July and has multiple contract extension options. The large district transports about 33,200 students to and from 228 public and parochial schools with 762 school buses.
BPS will continue to own the district’s school bus fleet. Veolia will be responsible for all aspects of operations, including safety performance, training, hiring and management of employees, and vehicle maintenance.
“The awarding of this contract signifies we have found a provider to deliver a new high standard of service to our students and their families,” BPS Superintendent Carol Johnson said. “Offering our students a safe, dependable and efficient way to get to and from school is one of our most basic obligations.”
For its new bus contract, BPS demanded several service improvements, including:
• Performance benchmarks that call for greater than 95% on-time performance.
• Doubling safety training for school bus drivers and more safety supervisors on the road.
• Fuel savings and reductions in overall fleet emissions through environmental technology and an anti-idling plan.
• Regular “customer service” surveys of parents and schools, including ongoing community meetings to listen to feedback and respond to requests.
Veolia will implement a variety of real-time dashboards to monitor performance and to ensure transparency for BPS staff.
“We are very pleased to be able to bring our skills and experience to Boston Public Schools and the city of Boston,” Veolia Transportation CEO Mark Joseph said. “We respect BPS’ commitment to safety, efficiency and the highest quality service, and we are dedicated to achieving their high standards. We look forward to a long and successful partnership."
According to the company, all current school bus drivers will become Veolia employees, and the terms of the existing collective bargaining agreement between the current operator and the bus drivers’ union, including salary and benefit packages, will remain in effect and will be assumed by Veolia.
Originally, BPS had prepared for an increase in total transportation costs of $17 million next year based on market estimates. The Veolia bid came in approximately $6 million under this estimate, which BPS officials said will allow the district to invest these resources in classrooms rather than transportation.
“Our agreement with Veolia will enable us to deliver school bus service better than ever before,” Superintendent Johnson said. “Veolia brings cost efficiencies through new uses of technology, ensures a culture of safety by nearly doubling driver training and on-street safety supervision, and [improves] on-time performance.”
Johnson added that the company has “proposed technology applications to improve our schools’ ability to directly monitor bus arrivals and departures, as well as enhanced information flows to monitor and enhance performance among all stakeholders.”
Lombard, Ill.-based Veolia Transportation offers bus services in some 130 contracts in the U.S. and Canada, including school transportation services for several school districts in Canada. Its parent company, Veolia Transdev, operates contracts for public transportation for 5,000 city transit authorities in 27 countries.
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