Transportation Improvements

Share Your Bus Transportation Need for the 2024-25 School Year

Help PWCS create more efficient bus routes and improve on-time service. Beginning June 3, parents are requested to log in to ParentVUE and indicate their student's need for bus transportation for the 2024-25 school year.

Go to ParentVUE

View the instructions for making the transportation selection in ParentVUE.

* If your circumstances change and you require transportation, we ask you to contact your child's school to ensure the information is up to date within ParentVUE. 

Two Prince William County Public Schools buses

Student Transportation Improvements

Our Commitment to Families

Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) is committed to providing top-level transportation service to every student and family we serve. We do this by:

  • Ensuring our students get to school safely and on time with reliable and prompt transportation services.
  • Empowering seamless student transportation experiences through timely parent communication for every journey.

Key Bus Transportation Improvements for the 2024-25 School Year

  • Significantly increasing on-time school arrivals for students – currently, 37% of buses are late to school.
  • Streamlining bus routing to increase bus utilization and reduce the time from first pick up to arrival at school.
  • Enhancing our communications with families.

Family Information Session Recording

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is PWCS making changes to student transportation for the 2024-25 school year?

PWCS is making changes to student transportation because our on-time performance is inconsistent and unreliable. We have identified our weaknesses, such as route optimization, communication, and accountability. We have developed a plan that will ensure our students get to school safely and on time with reliable and prompt transportation services.

How will PWCS improve student transportation?

Student transportation will be improved through route optimization, consolidation of stops, and enhanced communication efforts. Stop consolidation conserves vehicles by enabling each bus to pick up more students. Consolidating stops will allow us to repurpose up to 39 buses and eliminate up to 22% of stops. We are also implementing an opt-out policy. This will give parents the option to opt-out service for the 2024-25 school year. Implementing the opt-out policy will identify non-riders and allow us to optimize our routes for efficiency. Additionally, we understand that clear communication and transparency are essential for maintaining trust and confidence in our transportation system. To ensure this, we will expand training and improve our internal processes related to driver coverage, GPS tracking, data accuracy, customer service, and communication.

Who was involved in planning the transportation improvements?

PWCS has partnered with 4MATIV, a student transportation strategy, technology, and management company, and developed a highly analytical and collaborative approach to improve transportation for students.

How can I learn more about the transportation improvements?

Students, parents, and community members are encouraged to attend virtual scheduled townhall meetings. These meetings were held on: Tuesday, May 21 from 7 – 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, May 22 from 7 – 8:15 p.m. Thursday, May 23 from 7 – 8:15 p.m.

What should I do if my student does not need bus transportation for the 2024-25 school year?

Beginning on June 3, 2024, parents will have the option to opt out of receiving bus service in ParentVUE. View the instructions for making the transportation selection in ParentVUE.

How do the changes to student transportation affect specialty program express buses?

While we do not anticipate mass changes for the specialty programs, it is possible that some student families may experience changes to the distance of their express bus stop locations. Our goal is to balance the need for efficiency with the individual needs of students enrolled in specialty programs, ensuring they continue receiving the necessary support and resources to thrive academically.

What should I do if I indicated that my student does not need bus transportation and now my student does?

Parents may initiate changes to their student's transportation needs through their student's school. We understand that transportation requirements may change throughout the academic year. By coordinating transportation requests directly through your student’s school, we can ensure that all adjustments are processed efficiently and accurately.

When will parents learn about bus stops and student pick-up and drop-off times for the 2024-25 school year?

Student transportation information will be available in ParentVUE by August 12, 2024.

How will I be notified of changes or delays for my student's bus?

Parents and students will continue to receive late bus notifications through Transportation's Late Bus Notification page and the Here Comes the Bus app.

Summary of Presentation to the School Board

Summary of Presentation to the School Board

View the full presentation on transportation improvements from the School Board meeting on May 15, 2024.

Background

In September 2023, PWCS began collaborating with 4MATIV Technologies, a student transportation technology and consulting company, to optimize and modernize the division’s transportation system.

4MATIV has worked with school districts nationwide (e.g., Cincinnati, Houston, Indianapolis) and greater Washington, D.C. (e.g., D.C. Public Schools, Prince George’s County Public Schools) to help improve their student transportation.

Discovery Process

4MATIV analyzed PWCS transportation data and held stakeholder interviews and focus groups with a broad cross-section of students, families, and staff.

  • IT staff
  • Parents
  • Parent liaisons
  • Senior leadership
  • Special education staff
  • Students
  • Transportation Department
    • Bus drivers and attendants
    • Customer service center team
    • Dispatchers
    • Schedulers

Insights into Transportation

  • 72,483 students are transported to school (79.4% of all students) of what, total student population?
  • 57,000 students currently walk 0.2 miles or less to their bus stop
  • Non-bus options (cars or vans) could deliver large cost savings and relieve the driver shortage.
  • In the morning 37% of buses are late to school.
  • Tools such as SchoolStatus can be better leveraged, and staff trained and supported to improve communication.
  • The current practice of manually assigning day-of coverage at each center via the “driver leave log” is not documented.
  • The lack of clean sync between technology platforms produces inaccuracies and inflated vehicle needs.

4MATIV’s Recommendations for Improving Student Transportation

Consolidating Bus Stops to Reduce the Number of Routes Needed

PWCS could repurpose up to 39 buses by eliminating up to 22% of stops. Stop consolidation conserves vehicles by enabling each bus to pick up more students.

In simulations, the median student’s home-to-stop distance increases from 0.10 miles to 0.25 miles, with no changes for students with special transportation accommodations.

Allowing Families to Opt Out of Bus Transportation

Only 71% of planned riders take the bus each day. The typical bus route has 42 planned bus riders but only 30 students ride it. If 10-25% of non-riders opt out, PWCS would be able to consolidate more routes – further contributing to on-time performance.

Optimizing Vehicle Mix

PWCS currently has 1,038 trips with less than 10 riders. Stop consolidation and route optimization would eliminate 63 of these trips. Non-bus options (such as cars or vans) could deliver large cost savings, relieve the driver shortage, and improve stakeholder experience.

Enhancing the Use of Data and Technology

By expanding training and improving internal processes related to driver coverage, GPS tracking, data accuracy, customer service, and communication, PWCS will improve the accuracy of the Here Comes the Bus app, parent notifications of late buses, and customer service response times.