Fiorentini, Marotta Ride Haverhill NRT Bus, Deem 15-Minute Afternoon Delay ‘Unacceptable’

Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Superintendent Margaret Marotta rode a Bradford Elementary school bus Sept. 5, 2019. (Courtesy photograph.)

Kindergarten students from Bradford Elementary had two very special visitors along for the bus ride home on Wednesday: Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Superintendent Margaret Marotta, who joined the children to audit the route amid concerns over safety and excessive delays.

Reporting back to families via email, Marotta said the situation is improving but is “clearly not yet satisfactory.”

According to Marotta—who admitted the school district only became aware of route changes made by new transportation provider NRT’s computer software Transfinder 48 hours before Aug. 27’s first day of school—the bus issues remain a work in progress. She continues to work with NRT’s CEO John McCarthy and his team, she said, to revise routes and “gather data” so the School Committee can assess the need for additional buses.

Fiorentini opened up about his experience riding the bus on social media, telling residents that he hopped aboard at the suggestion of a parent, and to “see if these problems were as bad as people say.” According to the mayor? The answer is “Yes.”

The bus was between 12-15 minutes late, Fiorentini said, a delay he called “unacceptable.”

As Marotta and the school department vow to keep families in the loop, McCarthy and NRT are working to correct the problem that marred the first two weeks of school. To mitigate some of the city’s travel woes, McCarthy introduced two additional high school bus runs daily starting Sept. 3. The CEO of the state’s largest student transportation provider also plans to install the Synovia GPS tracker in all Haverhill buses.

Marotta is also hiring a new supervisor of transportation, though a school department spokesman tells WHAV the job search was planned well before the bus issues arose.

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