Atlanta Public School busses are parked at the Atlanta Public Schools Transportation hub in Atlanta's Sylvan Hills community, Friday, May 31, 2019. (Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com

Coming this fall: Earlier school bus pickup for Atlanta Public Schools

Atlanta Public Schools is rolling out changes next school year that leaders hope will improve school bus service. 

APS will spend about $220,000 more on transportation in the upcoming year to cover the cost of upgrades. The district also will tweak its bus schedule, and buses throughout the district could arrive at bus stops to pick up students five to seven minutes earlier. 

The district reported that 94 percent of its buses completed assigned routes on time during the 2018-2019 school year. 

Among all of the district’s geographic-based school clusters, the lowest on-time performance is to schools in the traffic-clogged Grady High School cluster, where APS said 91 percent of buses arrived on-time. 

Upcoming upgrades are aimed at improving those times

The district plans to shorten a few routes for students who live in the Grady and North Atlanta attendance areas by adding four additional buses to serve each of those clusters. 

Two schools -- Brandon Elementary School and Sarah Smith Elementary School -- will open their doors 15 minutes earlier, for bus riders only. Those two schools will open early at 7:15 a.m. for bus riders only. The school day will still start at 8 a.m. 

The district also is planning to purchase and start using a bus-tracking system that would allow parents to keep tabs on their students’ school buses using an app on their cellphones. 

Larry Hoskins, APS chief operating officer, told board members he hopes to have that technology up and running in January. 

“We want to manage expectations because there aren’t any bus-tracker apps out there that are like Uber, but there are some that are getting relatively close. So our hope would be to provide our community with a tool that will enable them to have indicators of where bus locations are and when buses will actually arrive at bus stops and schoolhouses,” he said. 

APS also is adding more work days for mechanics, changing their work calendar from 252 days a year to 262 days so they will have more time to perform bus maintenance and upkeep. 

An internal review completed in December found that APS buses were missing required inspections and revealed that repairs hadn’t been completed that previously had been flagged.

Harvey Barnerd prepares to change the brakes on a school bus at the Atlanta Public Schools Transportation hub in Atlanta’s Sylvan Hills community, Friday, May 31, 2019. (Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

By the numbers

Atlanta Public Schools transportation

  • Number of buses: 422
  • Number of routes: 293
  • Miles traveled daily: 21,215

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