Transportation Services to host Coffee & Conversations, add new stops

Transportation Services will host its third round of Coffee & Conversations on Wednesday — an opportunity for the department to share important updates and progress, as well as gather feedback to better identify ongoing challenges.

The bi-monthly meetings are normally held in the morning and evening at rotating locations. This time, the group will gather at Transportation Services’ Northwest Terminal and Eastwood Academy.

In the morning session, Interim General Manager John Wilcots IV will guide attendees on a tour of an HISD school bus to demonstrate the features of Zonar, a fleet management and tracking system implemented earlier this school year.

At a previous Coffee and Conversations event, stakeholders expressed frustration over congestion at the Lakeside Estates hub in west Houston. To address this issue, Transportation Services recently added several stops:

  • Shadowbriar Elementary School
  • Briar Village Apartments
  • Daily Elementary School
  • Askew Elementary School
  • Ashford Elementary School
  • Briarwest Boulevard and Briarwest Circle

This change will ensure the more than 2,000 students serviced by these routes will only have to walk two miles or less to their designated stop. Furthermore, wait and ride times will decrease, and there will be fewer students at each stop, alleviating traffic in the area.

“We’re still reviewing routes,” Interim General Manager John Wilcots IV said. “Another six routes will be eliminated by Jan. 28.”

The changes are part of Transportation Services continued efforts to review and streamline operations, improve services, increase efficiency, and ensure all students arrive at school each day safely and on time.

The goal, Wilcots said, is to have all afternoon routes — barring traffic accidents, mechanical issues or other unforeseen circumstances — completed on a regular basis by 6:15 p.m. beginning in mid-February.

To address the driver shortage, which is also affecting surrounding districts and transportation organizations, Transportation Services continues to host job fairs.

Three individuals who attended the last job fair, held Tuesday, are currently in the process of being hired. Wilcots said he hopes to hire 15 new drivers by March.

Wilcots also stressed the importance of the ongoing Student Badge Program, which was launched last fall. The program calls for bus riders to scan a bus badge as they embark and disembark, allowing the district — and parents who sign up for a notification service — to track when and where students get on and off the bus.

The system also allows bus drivers to manually input students who forget their bus badges, Wilcots said. Wilcots noted his team is working with drivers to ensure this step is incorporated into their regular workflow.

For more information, visit the Transportation Services website or contact the Business Operations Customer Care Call Center at 713-556-9400.