DataKind and SAS to help Boston Public Schools shorten school bus rides, lower costs

June 21, 2016

Photograph by Sven Laqua

Boston kids may soon enjoy shorter school bus rides, at lower costs to the city. The Boston Public Schools (BPS) Operations Management Team is teaming up with DataKind and analytics provider SAS to analyze detailed information about BPS bus routes and maps of the areas BPS serves. By evaluating multiple complex scenarios, BPS will hone in on the most efficient and cost-effective ways to get 33,000 students to and from school each day.

Boston Public Schools is the oldest public school system in the U.S., serving 125 schools and over 56,000 students. Currently, 700 school buses tote those 33,000 kids a collective 26,000 miles every day. The district hopes to improve busing efforts by updating their current routing approach, ultimately reducing costs and improving the transportation experience for their students.

“Improving our transportation system, in terms of both increasing the quality of the service we provide and reducing costs, is a high priority for the district, so we are very excited about this opportunity. We are hopeful that partnering with DataKind and SAS will produce valuable insights that we can use to make a real impact on how we provide transportation to BPS students,” said Jamie Racanelli, Director of Operations Management.

The SAS Advanced Analytics and Optimization Services Team and SAS Education Practice will work with DataKind and BPS to explore various scenarios and their impact on the number of buses required, costs, student travel time, and other outcome measures. For example, the team will explore how changing school start times, catchment areas or allowing students going to different schools to ride on the same bus could impact current bus routes.

“Our team of optimization experts at SAS is excited at the chance to get involved in this project," said  Jinxin Yi, Senior Manager of the Advanced Analytics and Optimization Services group. "By helping Boston improve school bus routes, not only can the city save money, but kids can arrive at school better rested and ready to learn. Plus, it’s an interesting problem!”

For 40 years, SAS has helped customers across every industry use data to make better decisions. Cities, states and countries worldwide are using SAS Analytics to improve citizen services, prevent losses from fraud, preserve natural resources, promote transportation alternatives and more. 

We are thrilled to have the support of SAS and the dedication of their Advanced Analytics and Optimization Services Team to execute the work of this project. Stay tuned for updates as the project gets underway!

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