Wednesday, September 6, 2023


AlphaRoute Outlines Efforts to Resolve Jefferson County Public Schools Transportation Issues

LOUISVILLE, KY – AlphaRoute, a transportation management company working with Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), today outlined how its team has supported the district through recent transportation disruptions. While there are still more improvements to be made, the district – with AlphaRoute’s support – has increased reliability and timeliness over the last two weeks for students and families. In many cases, afternoon drop offs are happening on par with previous school years, especially when factoring that many schools dismiss 35 minutes later this year.

“Our goal throughout this event has been to provide the necessary support to the district so that service could be restored to normal for JCPS students and families,” said John Hanlon, AlphaRoute CEO. “We understand the extremely negative impact that the transportation issues of August 9th had on students, families, school staff, and drivers. And we are proud to have partnered with the district to quickly identify short-term solutions that have improved service to levels that are on par with – and sometimes better than – service from previous school years.”

A number of factors contributed to the service disruptions at the beginning of the school year including a driver shortage – an issue that has been documented across the country. JCPS in recent years employed more than 900 drivers, and currently employs fewer than 600. Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio indicated on August 14th that, were it not for the new bus routes JCPS has implemented, the driver shortage would have forced the district to cancel service for 20% of students everyday. With AlphaRoute’s support, JCPS was able to avoid those cancellations.

Dr.Pollio has outlined on several occasions how AlphaRoute has supported the district through the disruptions that occurred at the beginning of the school year and that AlphaRoute is not at fault for these disruptions.

AlphaRoute also supported the district’s efforts to realign bell times this school year. This undoubtedly led to substantial change for students, families, school staff, and drivers but was an important step to mitigate the challenges of the driver shortage and helped the district to follow national research on the positive impact of later start times for adolescents. Roughly 30,000 JCPS middle and high school students are now starting school after 8 a.m. This change alone should yield significant positive outcomes for the district and its students.

“What our district experienced was unacceptable and we recognize the impact it had on students and families,” said Dr. Pollio. “When the disruptions first occurred, our main goal was to fix the issues as quickly as possible in order to get our students back in school and AlphaRoute was invaluable in helping to make those adjustments. Districts our size have complex transportation needs and we are able to better serve our community when we have the additional resources and expertise available to help us implement new technology and navigate operational issues. While there are serious issues being resolved, AlphaRoute’s technology and team are helping make our transportation services more efficient and effective.”

Timeline of AlphaRoute's Engagement with JCPS since May

Before school started:

  • Early May: AlphaRoute completed an initial routing solution and uploaded it on its interface for the district to review. The goal of this review was to evaluate bus stop assignments and change where needed. Bus stop assignments were created using JCPS bus stop locations from the previous school year. Note: AlphaRoute does not and has never used artificial intelligence when constructing bus routing solutions.
  • Mid June: AlphaRoute received updated enrollment data for the 2023-2024 school year.
  • Early July: AlphaRoute completed the final routing solutions and provided them to the district.
  • Mid July to early August: As part of AlphaRoute’s post hand-off of the routing solutions, its team supported JCPS generating turn-by-turn directions on route sheets that could be given to the drivers and with short-term solutions to lessen the number of scheduled late-afternoon school pickup times.

After school started on August 9:

  • On August 12, AlphaRoute sent a team to be on-site to support JCPS. AlphaRoute quickly identified that there were 5,000 more stops (2,500 morning stops and 2,500 afternoon stops) added to the system from when the final solution was delivered in early July. The additional stops created disruptions as a result of:
    ○  Travel times not being updated to reflect new stops on some routes.
    ○  Subsequent trips for that same bus were not adjusted.
    ○  In some cases, a small number of stops were split up into several new stops.
  • AlphaRoute worked with the district team to conduct new travel time analyses on the evolving JCPS routes.
  • AlphaRoute had, at times, up to six people working through the current routing solution, identifying problems and short-term fixes, with a primary goal of helping to improve the afternoon runs.
  • AlphaRoute observed operations in the field at multiple depots and schools and provided short-term recommendations on, for example, how to better utilize spare buses
  • AlphaRoute noted bus arrival times at stops, depots, and schools and compared these to predicted stop times and the district’s scheduled times.
  • AlphaRoute quickly created code to run new travel time analyses and also turn-by-turn direction files and delivered that code to the district.
  • AlphaRoute identified low-rider count buses that could potentially be dissolved into runs going into depots, thereby freeing up available buses at different times in the afternoon.
  • AlphaRoute met with district leadership and discussed options for new solutions, either for implementation later this school year or for consideration going into next year.
  • AlphaRoute created a set of policy and practice recommendations, drawing from other client work and materials from the Council of the Great City
    Schools, and delivered that to the district.

About AlphaRoute

AlphaRoute provides dynamic, end-to-end software, advanced analytics, and sophisticated consulting support to help transportation teams around the world. We work closely with our clients to develop, test, and implement new solutions that meet their needs. The AlphaRoute team is led by a team of PhD-level researchers and former public sector executives working toward one goal: to transform the world of mobility, saving millions of dollars for our clients, improving the lives of their constituents, and helping the environment.