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New Columbus City Schools bus routes begin after previous issues caused by faulty software

Columbus City Schools school bus
Natasha Williams
/
WOSU
A Columbus City Schools school bus parked outside Summit Academy School in southeast Columbus.

Children who ride to school on Columbus City Schools buses have new routes for the new semester, following software problems last year that led to inefficient and problematic routes.

Columbus City Schools spokesperson Jacqueline Bryant said new routes began Tuesday for students in charter and non-public schools that utilize transportation services from the district.

Students who attend city schools are expected to ride on the new routes starting Wednesday when the district's winter break ends.

Parents and guardians can contact the transportation call center at 614-365-5074 between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. to get more information about their students' bus stops and pickup times.

In response to comments on social media from parents complaining they can't get through to the center, Bryant asks for patience. She said additional staff is working Tuesday to handle the load of calls. Guardians can also visit the parent portal on the district's website to find the information.

In November, Bryant said in a statement there were several glitches with the AlphaRoute mapping software implemented at the start of the school year. “AlphaRoute has worked to fix the issues, however, it’s often not quick enough for a district of our size,” Bryant said.

In November, Lois Carson, president of the 3,000-member Ohio Association of Public School Employees union that includes bus drivers, said the AlphaRoute software created far too many routes for the number of bus drivers in the district. She said some of the routes it produced confused drivers.

"[A bus driver] would maybe drive past your pickup point, go to about three other pickup points, then circle back to your pickup point. So, the routes were a tad bit off, and some of them were extremely long,” she said.

At the start of the school year, Carson said the district also found several thousand students were left off routes. The system would drop children from route sheets as others were added.

The district is now using Veritrans software to create new routes, which was in use previously to improve route management.

Renee Fox is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. Fox joined the WOSU newsroom from the Tribune Chronicle/Vindicator in the Youngstown area, where she’d been a reporter since 2014. Contact Renee at renee.fox@wosu.org.