Schools

How the Boston schools’ bus routes ran Thursday morning

School officials say the number of "on-time" drop-offs actually improved this year.

Ethan Reyes, a 4th Grade student at the Henderson School, boards his bus on Bowdoin Street. David L Ryan/Globe Staff

Despite students and families facing long waits and delays for school buses on the first day of school in Boston Thursday morning, Boston Public School officials said all bus routes were ultimately covered.

School administrators had warned of the anticipated problems last week, as the district faces a bus driver shortage that, naturally, poses issues with getting students to school on time.

“All BPS morning bus routes were covered, with some routes departing late,” district officials said in a statement on Thursday afternoon. “Late bus departures impacted a relatively small percentage of BPS students, and all families and schools were notified proactively about any bus routes that were initially without driver coverage.”

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In fact, officials indicated Thursday’s drop-off was an improvement over years past.

According to the statement, 57 percent of the school bus fleet completed on-time drop-offs — meaning students are at school before the first bell rings — surpassing “both the 48 percent five-year average for the first day of school and the 43 percent on-time morning performance of the last comparable school year, 2019-20.”

“This morning, 85 percent of buses arrived within 15 minutes of the bell time and 96 percent arrived within 30 minutes of the bell time,” officials said.

Parents and families reported numerous woes to the Boston Globe, including one from a parent who said his son’s bus never arrived in Dorchester after he waited two hours. Some resorted to driving their kids to school themselves or in other cases, students called Ubers.

Xavier Andrews, a spokesman for BPS, told Boston.com in an email on Thursday afternoon that some buses initially had uncovered routes, but ultimately, the district’s transportation team was able to find drivers and buses were sent out.

“In some instances, this was significantly later than the scheduled time,” Andrews wrote. “BPS is working to improve our performance and on-time performance typically improves throughout the first week of school.”

The bus driver’s union in recent days had sought to have the district consider postponing the reopening of school until the issues were corrected.

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“Routing for the 2021–2022 school year is by far the worst fiasco we’ve witnessed in our careers,” the union said in a press release, according to the Globe. “It would appear that it was the result of mismanagement and incompetent routing.”

Last week, officials posted advertised driver positions, along with open bus monitor and food service jobs, in an attempt to find help.

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