New Fleet, New Drivers, New Company for School Buses
Public schools in Fairbanks start in two weeks, on Wednesday August 18, and many schools have new start times. A lot of students will be riding buses for the first time in months, or for the first time. The district wants students to register, so they don't get missed.
The borough is big, and running school buses on the same routes three times in the mornin and three times each afternoon took a lot of time and fuel. The district’s new school bell times allowed the transportation department to combine routes to save money. Transportation Coordinator, Ryan Hinton, says now the district has a two-tiered routing plan.
So instead of hitting all the neighborhoods in the Fairbanks area, three times in a three-tiered system, we're now only having to hit them twice in the morning and in the afternoon because we've combined the middle school and the high school routes in Fairbanks.
Hinton says the district will start the year with 100 bus routes across the borough, and work up to 120 routes, as more drivers are hired. Hinton says his staff is trying to make sure the routes go where the students are.
We typically average about 4,000 students riding the bus. So, we're encouraging families to register for the bus. They can find the registration form on our web page. That's K-12northstar.org/transportation.
Once they have routes mapped out, everyone who's registered for the bus will get a message with their bus schedule.
So, anybody who's a point of contact in their student's power school accounts. We'll be sending out an email with the students, itinerary and a robocall.
Hinton says general routing information will be available on the Transportation department’s website next week. That would include the locations and times of the bus stops.
And if families don’t get registered before school starts?
We're doing what's called flag week for the first couple of weeks of school, the buses will be doing their routes and there'll be making the stops wherever students were registered. But if the student's out there along the route, they can flag the bus down and the bus will take them to school.
Hinton says drivers will help any unregistered students establish their own bus stop.
And then the driver will give them a form just saying that they need to contact our office so we can register them and get their stop added. If it's not an existing stop already.
There is a new bus contractor this year, Durham School Services. They have built a new barn for an entirely new fleet, and are hiring drivers this week and next.