NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Metro Nashville Public Schools’ transportation department has seen an increase in the on-time performance of its buses, improved customer service and other benefits as a result of restructuring in the fall.
Improved hiring, training and retention practices mean the district moved from 90 open routes in September to just six in December. Officials said the new training program has been completely redesigned using national models of excellence.
The time between completing training and earning a license has also dramatically decreased, meaning that new school bus drivers can get on the road faster. As a result, “route-sharing,” where drivers make more stops than scheduled on their regular routes to cover for absent drivers, has decreased 37% since Oct. 1.
Other measureable improvements have directly benefitted students and parents. The number of late morning buses has decreased 69% since Oct. 1, and the number of late afternoon buses has decreased 28% since Oct. 1.
Calls to customer service about transportation have fallen 36% compared to the fall semester of 2012. Late bus and other calls of concern to the transportation department have fallen 46% when compared to the same period in 2012.
Service is improving for bus drivers and other transportation employees as well. Officials said that changes in the service area have reduced the turnaround time on most bus repairs from three weeks to two days. Longer hours at the shop’s “Fast Lane” repair line have contributed to this.
The Fast Lane — which does simple repairs on components like brake lights, and services such as fluid top-off and tire changes — is open nine hours each day, up from three and a half, meaning that other areas of the repair shop can concentrate on more involved repairs. The department is also working with more contracted vendors for replacement parts, which gives the team greater options to find out-of-stock parts more quickly.
As improvements continue, officials said that data should stay on its upward trend, and the transportation team is continuing to explore opportunities to increase efficiency and improve service.
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