Fairfield’s students district-wide may still be feeling the of – namely the to and from school – but Transportation Manager John Ficke can assure that he and education officials are endeavoring to at least trim those commutes.
“Our current goal is to get them to school on time and to get them home safely,” Ficke said.
He and other administrators have been monitoring the bus routes to adjust them as much as possible, but it’s not going to shorten the routes significantly, he said.
Due to redistricting, “there are more students that are further spread out, and it takes longer to get them to school,” Ficke said.
There has been some improvement since the beginning of the school year, however. Ficke has heard from some parents that their children’s afternoon rides have been cut down. This is mainly due to drivers becoming familiar with the routes.
“We had some reports of drivers turning down dead ends,” he said. “When you’ve got a 30-foot bus; it takes time to turn around.”
Rides to school could be cut down if students take their part in getting to the bus on time. Ficke referred to the transportation office’s policies that students wait outside of their homes for the bus five minutes ahead of the bus’s scheduled stop to quicken the drive.
Since the buses stop at houses – as opposed to corner streets – “it’s different than stopping at a corner and putting six kids on a bus,” Ficke said. “If a kid is running out the door as the bus drives by, it slows it down.”
Ficke added that he and other officials are using GPS to pinpoint who is using the bus and who’s not. If there is a stop where students consistently are not getting on the bus, the driver can go ahead and move on to the next stop.
“We can tell if they’re getting on, or which buses are coming early,” Ficke said. That helps determine which routes need to be adjusted.
The most important thing right now is that students make sure they are getting on the right buses at the right time, Ficke said.
He added that he and his team are taking into account both private and public school bus routes.
Check the Board of Education’s Transportation page for more on the office’s busing and other transportation procedures.
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