By Associated Press - Sunday, August 23, 2015

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - The launch of new bus-routing software led to a chaotic start to the school year across Palm Beach County, with stranded students and delayed arrivals rampant.

The school district has long used mapping software to help plan its nearly 2,000 routes, but turned to new technology this year. Officials allowed the new program to rewrite the routes from scratch, overriding years of tweaks made by drivers and supervisors familiar with the roads and resulting in unrealistic and often nonsensical pickup schedules and maps. Drivers said their warnings fell on deaf ears.

“We were telling them it wasn’t working,” said veteran driver Joyce Lynch. “They refused to listen.”

Buses routinely ran more than an hour late last week. On Monday, roughly 40 percent of the county’s 650 buses were late. By Friday, that figure had dropped to 26 percent but was still far above normal performance. District officials vowed to work through the weekend to recreate the routes by hand in hopes of improving bussing this week, but were reluctant to blame the $217,000 routing program, called Compass.

“I would not criticize the system itself,” said Mike Burke, the school district’s chief operating officer. “I blame more the management of the process.”

Drivers’ most common complaint was pick-up and drop-off times that didn’t seem to make sense. A Palm Beach Central High route required its driver to barrel two miles down Jog Road from Lake Worth Road to Lantana Road in just three minutes, all while making another stop on the way. A Watson B. Duncan Middle route required its driver to be at two separate stops along Prosperity Farms Road at the same time.

It didn’t stop there, though. Some drivers cited potentially dangerous conditions on the new routes, including one that a driver said required students to cross a six-lane road to get home from their stop.

“You’re endangering these people’s children’s lives,” bus driver Jane Brown told The Palm Beach Post (


Information from: The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post,

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