John McCarthy, the CEO of Haverhill’s new bus provider, North Reading Transportation, plans to attend the city School Committee meeting Thursday night amid back-to-school delays and other issues Superintendent Margaret Marotta and Mayor James J. Fiorentini jointly deemed a letdown.
As parents across the city voiced concerns of student safety and missed free breakfasts, school officials quickly vowed to rectify the issue Fiorentini said was a “fiasco.”
“To say that this was an inauspicious first day for this new bus company would probably be the understatement of the year,” he wrote Tuesday night on his personal Facebook page. “I am extremely unhappy with the way that the first day was handled.”
The state’s largest transportation provider, NRT buses 110,000 students daily and recently purchased Coppola earlier this year. Haverhill has 8,000 public school students. In an interview with WHAV Tuesday morning, Marotta said an early bottleneck involving an elementary school bus that ran nearly one hour late impacted the rest of the day’s routes.
“There’s 33 buses and the buses run high school, middle school, elementary school, so there’s like 99 routes,” she said. “That’s why an elementary school bus ran a little bit late, because somewhere along the way it had been planned wrong, I’m guessing. So that sort of backs itself up.”
The district utilized computer software called Transfinder to organize this year’s routes, Marotta told WHAV.
Following an equally difficult afternoon commute, Marotta debriefed with Fiorentini, Assistant Superintendent Michael Pfifferling and others to discuss next steps. “I am disappointed, as I am sure you are, that these bussing issues marred what was in many ways a smooth opening of school,” she said in a letter to parents.
Marotta has proactively ordered morning bus routes at Consentino, Hunking, Nettle, Tilton Upper and JG Whittier moved up by 15 minutes in an effort to alleviate travel issues that presented themselves on Tuesday. Afternoon buses continue to run as scheduled.
Stay with 97.9 WHAV FM for full coverage of Thursday night’s School Committee meeting. The session is open to the public and begins at 7 p.m. in room 202 of City Hall, 4 Summer St., Haverhill.