First Student has been Fairfield, Connecticut’s Public Schools’ student transportation provider for more than 20 years. While the district performs its own bus routing, in the summer of 2017, Fairfield hired First Student’s Planning Solutions group, a dedicated team of routing experts, to conduct a comprehensive study of its route plan.
First Student’s Planning Solutions group examined all aspects of Fairfield’s routes, including operating metrics, time and capacity utilization, and route packaging and tiering. The group identified the constraining tier that drove bus count requirements, and through the time and capacity utilization, identified runs that could be realigned. By leveraging gaps that had been created in the schedule by consolidation, an opportunity was identified to eliminate two regular education routes (from 89 to 87), driving an annual savings of more than $100,000 for the district.
Doreen T. Munsell, executive director of finance and business services, has worked with First Student’s routing experts for the last two years. She noted, “Working with First Student’s routing experts was absolutely phenomenal. The team was responsive, proactive, and professional. The work was a tremendous undertaking, as we have been utilizing the same routing approach for 31 years, but knew we could improve. Besides costs savings, the process was efficient and seamless, with significant results.”
The implementation of new routing systems can be a very challenging proposition for school districts. These systems are complex, and require a great deal of expertise to build and configure properly. Further, users require proper training to navigate the learning curve and leverage the new system’s capabilities.
For these reasons, when Fairfield decided to make a change in its bus routing system this summer, they again turned to First Student’s Planning Solutions group. With its expertise in a wide variety of routing solutions, First Student’s Planning Solutions group was perfectly suited to spearhead the project.
Working with the district, the group mapped out a migration plan to meet Fairfield’s system and project timing requirements. The actual migration was conducted over the course of several weeks. When the new system was fully built, Fairfield’s users were trained, and the new system was run, while referencing the legacy system for a short period of time until all stakeholders were confident it was ready for prime time.
In the end, First Student’s Planning Solutions group delivered a seamless system transition for Fairfield, which is successfully using its new system without disruption.