Sent Via Email – September 12, 2021
Transportation Update for SAU 70 Families,
It sure has been a busy start to the new school year. In mid-August as we prepared to kick off the 2021-2022 education programs, we sent out a transportation survey in an effort to help inform our routing needs for bussing. By August 18th, it was apparent that we were about to experience an extraordinary amount of transportation requests in both Hanover and Norwich. It was not realistic to base our routes on last year’s data as the ridership during a pandemic was very limited, so we resurrected the prior year’s routes and have now collected more current data from the school registration forms and daily requests. As we do every year, we have been reviewing the routes for additions, deletions and timing changes. Keep in mind afternoon times are approximate as we never know from one day to the next how many students will be riding home due to after school activities.
Many of the buses this year are nearing capacity and our ability to expand service with more vehicles is limited by the ongoing driver shortages and low unemployment rates in the Upper Valley area. Every year we try to accommodate parental requests for more personalized bus stops as close to the student’s homes as possible. The volume of additional riders this year (more than 700 requests), number of stops on some of the routes and increased local traffic is making it impossible to arrive at all of the schools prior to their 8 am start times, which is impacting student learning. The routes which are most concerning are Hanover 1, Hanover 10 and Norwich 5. These routes have been updated with some significant changes including stop consolidations. The updates will be posted to the SAU70 website on Monday, September 13th and changes for the morning runs will go into effect on Monday, September 20th. After consulting with the NH guidelines and checking distances to new proposed shared stops, we decided on stop consolidations instead of backing up the start times. This is more equitable than making the first students on board extend their ride by 15 minutes. Many of our locations/routes already require students to make their way to stops at the end of their roads. The afternoon runs will remain unchanged.
For those families who have stops on Lyme Road or connecting to Lyme Road, we are not able to allow your students to get off at early stops and cross both lanes of a state highway that is posted at 50 miles per hour (NH Route 10). They must stay on the bus until we have their stop on the exit door side of the bus.
We hope in the future we will be able to resume the more personalized pickups which will require the addition of more drivers. If you know of anyone who would like an early morning job with an aggressive rate of pay driving the most amazing students from home to school, please have them contact Student Transportation of Vermont at 802-698-8528. They have training programs available.
As always we thank you for your help and cooperation in these important matters and difficult decisions.
Jamie Teague, Business Administrator - SAU70
Mike Gaudette, Manager - Student Transportation of VT