Only half of BPS buses were on time on the first day of school. But punctuality is improving, data shows.

"We're improving every day."

alt = empty, yellow Boston Public Schools bus
An empty Boston Public School bus. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

On the first day of school last week, Boston public school students who took a school bus had a one-in-two chance of arriving on time for class.

District data provided to this week shows 50 percent of buses arrived before the first bell rang on Sept. 8, with 77 percent of buses arriving within 15 minutes of the start time and 92 percent of buses at school within 30 minutes of the bell time.

Punctuality improved on the second day of classes, with 72 percent of buses at school by the first bell, 89 percent of buses at school within the first 15 minutes, and 95 percent of buses present within the first half hour of the school day, according to the data.


By Monday, the third day of classes, there was continuing, slight improvement, with 73 percent of buses pulling up to school before the bell, 93 percent dropping students off within the first 15 minutes, and 99 percent of buses within the first 30 minutes.

“Getting our students safely to school in the morning and returning them home at the end of the day is central to our mission of making sure every student gets what they need to succeed,” the district said in an emailed statement. “Our bus arrival times before bell time and after bell time continue to improve as seen with the data.

“We will continue working to improve the numbers moving forward, and to respond to the transportation needs of families throughout the district.”

On-time bus arrivals have been a perennial challenge for BPS.

Data for on-time arrivals for the first day of school last year shows this year’s on-time arrivals dipped a few percentage points.

On the first day of school in 2021, as BPS weathered a bus driver shortage, 57 percent of the school bus fleet completed on-time drop-offs — above the previous five-year average of 48 percent on the first day of school.

Still, the current school year began under different conditions, chiefly a mandate from state education regulators that BPS achieve a school bus on-time arrival rate of 95 percent or better each month.


Under the agreement struck between the city and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in June to avoid a potential state-takeover of BPS, the district is also supposed to ensure that 99 percent of school buses arrive within 15 minutes of the start of the school day.

BPS officials are required to report arrival data to DESE on a monthly basis, as terms of the deal.

There is also the ongoing MBTA Orange Line shutdown that’s causing traffic delays in the city.

Mayor Michelle Wu, speaking Wednesday during the first day of the three-day Globe Summit conference, said city officials were “weeks ahead” of schedule in planning transportation for the school year when they got word of the shutdown in August.

“But as of Monday this week, there were no uncovered routes at all,” Wu said. “We’re improving every day.”

Indeed, the number of uncovered morning trips, or trips without a driver available, dropped from 42 on Sept. 8 to 1 trip on Monday, according to the data provided by BPS. There were 8 uncovered trips Monday afternoon, down from 77 uncovered afternoon trips on the first day.

Acting Superintendent Drew Echelson told the Globe on Monday he is confident the district will continue to improve on-time arrivals.


“In the next few weeks, we should start to see numbers that are more regularly hitting the 90 percent on-time performance,” he said.


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