New bus stops, a streamlined bus registration process and added safety measures are some of the improvements nearly 9,300 students who utilize the LCPS transportation system can expect to see during the upcoming school year, said David Del Toro, LCPS director of transportation.
“The changes we’ve made are going to improve the process for everyone,” Del Toro said. “We’re using technology, coupled with ‘real world’ knowledge of the city, to improve the bus riding experience across the district.”
By utilizing Versatrans, a transportation management software program, the transportation department will now use data from each bus rider’s location to select bus stop locations which will maximize the efficiency of each bus route. Each selected location is then reviewed by the transportation department to ensure the stop is in an appropriate location, based on factors such as safety, Del Toro explained.
Parents with children who utilize the bus should check ParentVue, the online communication tool, to get bus information since bus stops for the 2016/17 school year may have changed from the previous year. Parents can also get bus information at their child’s school registration or contact their child’s assigned school.
“In years past, we had to make rough estimates about how many buses we’d need,” Del Toro said. “By using data in the system, we’re now able to develop more accurate estimates.”
Although approximately 9,300 students are registered for transportation services through LCPS, last year, only about 7,500 students actually used the service to get transported to and from school each day.
By using the system, LCPS will now provide Student Transportation Specialists of New Mexico (STS-NM), the private bus company contracted to provide service for the district, with rosters for bus riders on each bus route, starting on the first day of school.
The rosters will allow the bus drivers to create seating charts for each route and function as an added safety measure for kindergarten students since, according to district protocol, kindergarten students who ride the bus must be released to an authorized adult or older sibling. The new process will also help eliminate confusion for substitute drivers, ensuring that each student is picked up and dropped off in the correct location and help avoid overcrowding, since it provides more accurate estimates about the number of students who use each route, he said.
The revised registration process will now integrate information from the District’s student information database to update student transportation information year-after-year, so students only have to register for transportation once, unless they move or transfer, he said. As students transition from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school, each student’s bus route will be automatically changed to match that student’s new school.
Students are eligible to receive transportation through LCPS if they meet the following criteria: they are an elementary school student whose registered address is one-mile-or-more, one-way, from their assigned school, a middle school student whose registered address is one-and-one-half miles or more, one way, from their assigned school, a high school student whose registered address is two-miles-or-more, one way, from their assigned school.
Transportation may also be provided for students who reside within the statutory walking distance from their attendance center, pursuant to state statutes.
To register for transportation services, kindergarten or transfer students, who are new to the district and qualify for transportation, must fill out a bus registration form at their assigned school at the time of registration. The school registrar will then submit the form to the LCPS Transportation Office and will also provide the student with their bus number, morning/afternoon pick-up times and locations, if this information is available at the time of registration.
For rules and regulations regarding LCPS transportation services, parents can now download and review the LCPS Transportation Handbook which is available online at: http://lcps.k12.nm.us/departments/operations/transportation/forms-documents/
“We are pleased that STS-NM will continue to provide student transportation services for LCPS during the 2016-17 school year,” Del Toro added.
This is the seventh year STS-NM has been contracted to provide transportation services for the district. All bus drivers are employed by STS-NM.
Del Toro said STS-NM also provides ancillary student bus transportation services for the district, including field trips and athletic trips. STS-NM is paid for these services on a per-trip basis, based upon its ancillary contract with the school district.
During the 2016-17 school year:
• An estimated 7,500 students will be transported to and from LCPS schools each school day;
• Buses will travel an estimated 1.5 million miles taking students to and from school;
• LCPS will utilize 124 bus routes, the same number of routes as last year. There will be 81 regular routes and 43 special needs routes, of which, 27 are lift buses.
• LCPS will utilize an estimated 124 drivers, 13 substitute drivers, 43 bus attendants and 3 bus attendant substitutes to help transport students.
• All buses have surveillance cameras and several special need buses are equipped with air-conditioners.
For more information, visit: www.lcps.k12.nm.us/departments/operations/transportation/ or contact the LCPS Transportation Office at (575) 527-5998. STS-NM can also be contacted at (575) 523-5686 for additional information about bus service or with questions about hiring bus drivers.