School districts experience with AlphaRoute vary

School districts experience with AlphaRoute vary
Published: Aug. 14, 2023 at 4:32 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - AlphaRoute is in Louisville helping JCPS work through its busing meltdown.

The company markets itself to schools and transit agencies, promising to cut costs and deal with driver shortages. But school districts across the country report varying results.

School districts that used AlphaRoute just to study bell times, or bus routes, said they were happy with the experience. Districts that asked AlphaRoute to do more seemed to run into problems.

“There were multiple routes that required three point turns, buses that were routed to private roads or private driveways,” Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent Iranetta Wright described.

Cincinnati Public Schools hired AlphaRoute to optimize its school bus system after it had struggled with a shortage of drivers. AlphaRoute succeeded at optimizing the routes, but the district still had big problems to fix, partly because of the mapping software.

“AlphaRoute used a Google Map system, and as the district we used the Hamilton County maps which took into consideration all of the thoroughfares, dead end streets, and the high traffic areas,” Wright said.

A spokesperson said Cincinnati Public Schools was not satisfied with AlphaRoute and worked with them less than a year.

“He needs to refine it and not try to build it on the fly,” Columbus Public Schools Transportation Director Rodney Stufflebean said.

The district backed away from a three year, $1.5 million contract with AlphaRoute due to problems.

Other districts reported success.

Manatee County Schools in Florida said their relationship with AlphaRoute was successful, although they did not use the company to implement the routes.

“They did help us reduce the total routes to 94 from 106, and revealed some routing issues that staff has been overlooking for years,” Transportation Director Jamie Warrington said.

The Pinellas County School District in Florida and Springfield Public Schools in Missouri also used AlphaRoute just to study their bell times.

JCPS went all in and the next big test for the district and AlphaRoute still has to be passed.

JCPS said it is working on adding missing bus stops on route. It is also looking at bus routes with more than 25 stops, to see if it can reduce the number of the stops in the future.