Metro

Boston school bus performance improves dramatically

Far more Boston school buses arrived on time Friday morning on the second day of classes, bringing performance back in line with the previous school year.
ARAM BOGHOSIAN FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE
Far more Boston school buses arrived on time Friday morning on the second day of classes, bringing performance back in line with the previous school year.

Far more Boston school buses arrived on time Friday morning on the second day of classes, bringing performance back in line with the previous school year.

Some 71 percent of buses made it to school before the opening bell, a dramatic improvement from Thursday, when only 44 percent showed up on time.

School officials remain hopeful that a new partnership with MIT researchers will ultimately improve the on-time performance of its buses, which ferry 27,000 students to 230 public, private, and charter schools each day.

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“While Boston Public Schools did experience challenges with transportation, we are pleased to report that our ongoing work to resolve these issues with our bus vendor, Transdev, has led to on-time improvements with our school buses,” said Superintendent Tommy Chang in a statement. “We expect our on-time performance to continue to improve over the next several school days.”

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The school system brought in the MIT research team after hosting a hackathon-like event earlier this year to create a computer model that would help to create more efficient bus routes than what can be devised by hand and eyes.

The effort has already reduced the number of buses on the road from 650 last year to 600 this year, saving the school system $5 million.

The smaller fleet also has enabled the school system to shrink its carbon footprint by 40,000 pounds of emissions since the buses began running Thursday, according to the school system.

But the hope for better on-time performance has not yet been realized. Although more school buses arrived on time Friday than on Thursday, the performance didn’t quite measure up to last year’s rate on the second day of classes of 76 percent.

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The school system also saw some progress on the number of buses leaving the bus yards on time: 45 percent did on Friday morning, compared with 31 percent the previous day. It’s not clear why so many buses are leaving late.

But the buses experienced a slippage in performance in the afternoon when picking up students at dismissal. Only 61 percentcq of buses arrived on time, compared with 63 percentcq Thursday.

When classes resume on Monday, the bus drivers will confront a new set of challenges to arriving to school on time: Preschoolers and kindergarten students will be starting their first day of classes. For many, the day will mark their first time stepping aboard one of the yellow buses by themselves, an event that typically prompts a flurry of photos, videos, and tears from anxious parents.

James Vaznis can be reached at james.vaznis@globe.com.