Carnegie Mellon University

Kids Getting on a Bus

More Efficient Transport of K-12 Students through Centralized Planning

Currently, school districts are required to provide transportation for all students living within their boundaries to attend schools that are sometimes beyond the district’s borders (e.g., charter schools, nonpublic schools, specialized schools for students with disabilities, etc.). According to Allies for Children data, there are currently more than 25 contractors who provide these daily transportation services in Allegheny County, typically using yellow school buses, for approximately 140,000 school aged children. The current routes, with very few exceptions, are planned independently by each contractor. This causes redundancy in route coverages across the city.

The goal is to provide two variants of a traffic simulation model with the data provided by Allies of Children partner school districts: one that operates with the current school bus plans developed independently by each school district and one that operates with the proposed centrally generated plan.

Specifically, members are to work with partner school districts to obtain relevant data on current transport requests and bus schedules. Results will be compared with respect to transit times, numbers of vehicles utilized, and other relevant factors. A series of community meetings were are planned to solicit further feedback from a diverse group of stakeholders, such as parents, bus drivers, students, and school administrators. This is a short pilot project and will first be deployed in the Penn Hills area of Pittsburgh and then would expand to other neighborhoods in need.

The plan for applying this proposal is to work in the following steps:

  • Data Acquisition and Problem Analysis [Mos. 1-2]
  • Development of Bus Schedule Optimizer [Mos. 3-6]
  • Simulation Model development [Mos. 7-8]
  • Performance analysis [Mos. 8-9]
  • Stakeholder Meetings [Mos. 10-12]

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this project model was rerouted to accomplish a different purpose, which you can more about here.



Stephen Smith, Robotics Institute