The software used to map Lakewood’s school bus routes is plagued with inaccurate information about the location of homes, schools, and even streets. The consortium responsible for overseeing the town’s complex transportation network discovered the rampant errors which, they believe, might have caused the cash-strapped district to be shortchanged by untold amounts.
At the beginning of the current school year, the Lakewood Student Transportation Authority (LSTA) was created after legislation gave state funding for private school busing to the schools themselves. It was during a training session for Versatrans, a major bus routing software system, that LSTA discovered the plethora of mistakes.
“I put my son’s name into the system as an example and saw that only half of the development I live in was on the map, the school he goes to is in a location that it moved from a few years ago, and the bus goes on a street that doesn’t exist,” Avraham Krawiec, LSTA’s director, told Hamodia. “We brought down the town engineers to look at the maps and they said there could be thousands of kids affected by these mistakes.”
The misinformation seems to stem from the fact that since 2004 there has been no general update of the system used by the district office. Incremental adjustments were made over time, but much of the geographical effects of Lakewood’s rapid development were overlooked.
Mr. Krawiec said that since bus companies are typically familiar with the town’s layout, the mistakes have not taken a toll on the way busing was actually delivered, but that the effect on funding might be tremendous. Many students whose routes show them as living too close to their schools to qualify for mandatory transportation might have been denied funding they are entitled to. One route showed that a student lived within walking distance of his school based on the existence of a walking path which in reality has not existed for several years.
Furthermore, many routes are likely to have been bid out to busing providers at higher costs than necessary.
The effects of mistakes are likely to have cut both ways, and until a full review is conducted, it is possible that money erroneously awarded to the distinct could balance out losses.
“Even if it ends up being a wash, it’s important that the routing is done correctly. It’s very possible that Lakewood has lost a lot of money due to these errors,” said Mr. Krawiec.
LSTA is presently engaged in seeing that all information is properly updated to reflect actual routes.