September 10, 2021
Dear APS families and staff,
I would like to begin by thanking our families, students, and staff for a great start to the school year. It has been a wonderful experience to see our students back in our schools.
Despite the great start, I do want to acknowledge the transportation issues that have overshadowed the first few days of school for many of our families. Our families expect transportation services that are efficient and reliable. I know these are not the experiences you’ve had, and I apologize for these challenges.
Our transportation department is working hard to be responsive to your concerns and we have been in constant communication with our transportation companies, NRT and Trombly, these past few weeks to create solutions to provide improved services to our families.
Our principals and assistant principals have let me know that while there has been some improvement since the first day of school, there are still pain points we are working to address. Trombly and NRT tell me there is currently a 15% driver shortage across the nation, and throughout Massachusetts. Fortunately, they believe that this is a short-term problem rather than a yearlong issue.
Specific to Andover, and as a result of this shortage, NRT and Trombly are using substitute drivers on certain routes. These substitute drivers had not previously been familiar with our routes. As a result of our conversations with Trombly, they have provided their drivers with the routes in advance to prepare them to provide efficient transportation.
Of particular concern are bus routes # 4, 6, 10. Andover’s transportation manager worked tirelessly to eliminate B-runs for this school year, however, the staffing shortage at Trombly has required the bus company to tier these routes for the time being. Bus route #4 services Doherty Middle School and Bancroft Elementary students. As a result, bus route #27 is also affected. Bus route #6 services Andover High School and South Elementary and bus route #10 services Andover High School. Again, as a result of the staffing shortage, Trombly has been required to tier these routes as well, both buses also provide service to Greater Lawrence Technical School.
The above-mentioned routes are not the only ones that have been an issue and we continue to work with Trombly and NRT to improve the service for our students. Additionally, special education transportation provided by NRT has been challenging for some of our families. As Trombly and NRT are able to add additional drivers, they will attempt to return to dedicated routes as initially designed.
Andover’s Department of Public Works director has also assessed how any construction might affect our school transportation. He has personally driven roads of concern during school commuting times and expects no construction vehicles will be on the road during these hours.
Regardless of any mitigating factors, I understand that it’s difficult to trust that the system will work seamlessly moving forward. I am optimistic that with continued communication with our transportation providers, we will be able to provide better information to our families and improve transportation services for our students in the coming weeks.
Dr. Magda Parvey
Andover Public Schools