Bus routes to be evaluated a few weeks into school year in Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - This school year, 150 buses are picking up more than 5000 bus riders each day and heading to Huntsville City Schools.

The district said on its website that no stops will be added, or removed, from routes until August 21. Director of Communications Keith Ward said this would help ensure a smoother start for families.

"The reason we don't make adjustments for the first several days is it has a domino effect," he said. "If you start adding or deleting bus stops, then the person who may have a bus stop at 7:10, now all of a sudden it's 7:15, and then the next day it's 7:20. It would create a lot of inconvenience and confusion."

He said prior to the start of school, the district has locked in the routes in order to evaluate data to make tweaks and changes later in the month.

"We use real-time data from the first several days of school to be able to analyze effective routes. Who is using, who is not using the routes, and in addition to that we get feedback from individuals on requests," he stated. They will use that to make changes that make sense moving forward.

This will be the second year the district is contracting with the Apple Bus Company for Transportation. They're working well together, Ward said, but route or stop changes are still possible as they work to accommodate students.

"We know there may be late registrations coming in or there are some students who have not identified themselves as being a bus rider," he said. He urged families to make sure the students who ride the bus are registered as bus riders with the school system to ensure a stop that will work for them.

"We have a year's worth of data to look at to develop the maps we had for this year. That gave us really good footing for developing the routes this year," he said. "We have had little glitches, but overall it has been very smooth."

The district offers multiple ways you can check your school zone and look up your student's route information. It has an interactive map for routes and stops, along with a Safe Stop bus tracker app that, upon registration, families can use to get notifications about the bus, stops, and routes.

"It's very intuitive and interactive. It'll give real-time information for parents," Ward explained.

Ward said there's one easy way to get a question answered, or a concern dealt with, with regard to busing: an online comment form.

"Give as much detail as you can and then we can either us or Apple Bus Company can get back with you," he said.

The district has a list of criteria for bus riders. They urge people to check those before asking to be added to a route.

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