School Bus Update: Routes posted; act on issues now before routes are frozen; GPS app to be piloted

Above: You might see a bus (or two or three) pass by your house early next week. Drivers will be test driving the routes to avoid issues on the first day of school. (photo by Beth Melo)

As promised, yesterday afternoon the Northborough-Southborough school system posted the routes for the new school year.

The routes followed a notice on Friday updating parents on the process. According to the memo, drivers will be practicing the routes to prepare in advance of the first day of school. To that end, the routes will be “frozen” from this Friday, August 23rd to mid September (except in cases of safety issues). That means you better check the routes now to make sure there aren’t any problems with your stop.

At a glance, it sure looks like it’s in better shape than last August. It looks like a return to normal without glaring errors like the ones that jumped out at me last year. (It helps that feedback from drivers on an internal draft has already been incorporated.) Hopefully, when you check your route, you’ll feel the same.

Rather than linking to the route, I’m linking to the Transportation page that has the link. (In case there are any updates this week.) That page also includes links to the Transporation form to be used to communicate any issues.

You can read Friday’s notice from the schools’ Transportation Coordinator below. It includes details on how to handle issues. It also previews a small-scale pilot of a GPS app for parents/students: 

Dear Parent(s) and Guardian(s):

With the start of the 2019-2020 school-year rapidly approaching, we would like to share with families a few transportation updates. First, on Friday, August 2, 2019, the District provided draft bus routes to North Reading Transportation (NRT) for its review and to provide feedback on the routes. Furthermore, the bus drivers were assigned routes, given route drafts, and were provided an opportunity for input.

As part of the districts’ transportation contract with NRT, it requires NRT bus drivers to drive their routes before the start of the school year. NRT has assured that this has or will take place. Additionally, on Monday, August 12, 2019, the District leadership team and building principals met with NRT bus drivers to welcome them and share expectations. As of today, Friday, August 16, 2019, the District’s Transportation Department has reviewed the drivers’ feedback and reflected many of their recommendations on the routes.

When will the bus routes be posted?
On Monday, August 19, 2019, at 4:00 PM the District will publish the routes to the Transportation webpage on the District website We’re asking parent(s)/guardian(s) to review the routes and communicate any concerns by using the NSBORO Transportation Communication Form.

Where will the routes be posted?
The District Transportation Webpage When will requested changes to the routes be made? On Friday, August 23, 2019, all routes will be frozen until Friday, September 13, 2019. No changes will be made to the routes unless it’s to address a safety concern. All of the requested changes will be reviewed and implemented on Monday, September 16, 2019. The purpose of freezing the routes is to provide time for the drivers to learn their routes.

What if I have a concern, question, or suggestion?
Please review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) located on the website. If you identify a safety issue or are requesting a bus stop change, we’re asking that you communicate this through the online NSBORO Transportation Communication Form. These concerns/requests will be reviewed by the Transportation Coordinator, in consultation with others, and changes will be implemented if deemed necessary.

Future Improvements: The District will be piloting the “Here Comes The Bus” application on a small scale as a proof of concept. Three routes will be selected, one from each district to set up the app. From this small-scale pilot, the District will determine if it’s feasible to move forward on a larger scale. More information will be shared about this pilot shortly.

Lastly, it’s important to remind families and guardians that a successful transportation operation requires a strong partnership between families, the District, and the bus contractor. At the start of any school year, it is expected that minor changes and adjustments will need to be made as we route over 4,000 students. We appreciate your partnership and patience.


Pauline Joncas Rebecca Pellegrino
Transportation Coordinator Director of Finance and Operations

For those of you curious about “Here Comes the Bus”, here’s a link to the website.

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