Bus schedules earn an ‘A’

Published 9:30 pm Saturday, September 6, 2014

Scheduling bus routes for school bus drivers is a task that must require equal parts advanced math, traffic engineering, psychological and sociological insight and alchemy. Any number of things can affect the schedule, and many of them are beyond the control of bus drivers or transportation personnel in the School Board’s administrative offices.

Last year, students, parents and bus drivers got a close-up view of how badly things can go awry. Operating on a new, cost-saving staggered schedule of school start times, school bus drivers were put in the position of needing pretty much everything to go right in order to make it to school in time and then to get students home again at a reasonable hour at the end of the day.

The schedule left little or no room for sick bus drivers, students who were late to arrive at their buses, traffic tie-ups or many of the other unforeseen circumstances that could delay a bus. The result — especially at the beginning of the school year — was students who arrived home after dark and classes that had to start before all buses had arrived.

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According to Suffolk Public School officials, things have gone much better so far this year, even though the bus fleet is short 13 of its full complement of 156 drivers. After some initial kinks on the first two days of school, spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw said last week, all students have been home each afternoon by 5 p.m. That’s good news for students, parents, bus drivers and harried transportation department planners.

There will still be the occasional problem that will cause a bus to be late arriving to school, but it appears the school system has come up with an effective solution to last year’s transportation problem. For that, school officials deserve an “A.”