Bus Routing Optimization Helps Boston Public Schools Design Better Policies
Spreading start times allows school districts to reduce transportation costs by reusing buses between schools. However, assigning each school a time involves both estimating the impact on transportation costs and reconciling additional competing objectives. These challenges force many school districts to make myopic decisions, leading to an expensive and inequitable status quo. For instance, most American teenagers start school before 8:00 AM, despite evidence of significant associated health issues. We propose an algorithm to jointly solve the school bus routing and bell time selection problems. Our application in Boston led to $5 million in yearly savings (maintaining service quality despite a 50-bus fleet reduction) and to the unanimous approval of the first school start time reform in 30 years.
This project connects to SDG 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities.
- Dimitris Bertsimas (MIT)
- Arthur Delarue
- Sebastien Martin
Papers and Media
- Optimizing schools’ start time and bus routes: Paper
- Bus routing optimization helps Boston Public Schools design better policies: Paper
- The Wall Street Journal: How Do You Solve A School Bus Problem? Call MIT. (08/17)
- NPR Boston: 2 MIT Engineers Use Math To Plot A Path For Boston’s School Buses. (07/17)
- Wired: What the Boston school bus schedule can teach us about AI. (11/18)
- The Boston Globe: Computers can solve your problem. You may not like the answer. (09/18)
- 2019 Franz Edelman Award Finalist (presentation video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyx9Hc5iDKU)
- Presentation in the Rhode Island Special Legislative Commission on School Start Times.